Asking “Where are the Children?”, activists placed over a thousand pairs of childrens’ pajamas on clotheslines along the National Mall in Washington D.C. on International Children’s Day, June 9, to protest the ten thousand or more migrant children allegedly separated from their parents or families and placed in government detention camps or centers.
Each set of pajamas served as a reminder of separated families, and parents spending nights away from their children.
“We put together this project and this installation to show how separating migrant children from their families at the border is hurting children and parents, and [it is] a stain on us as citizens”, said project organizer Nadine Bernard of Laurel Md. “The judge said these children need to be reunited, the Administration has not done it, so this is our way of protesting…There are no children [inside those pajamas], they are gone, they are put away and we can’t handle it anymore.”
Some 13,200 migrant children are currently housed in more than 100 shelters across the country according to recent reports, many believed to have been forceably taken away from their parents by immigration officials.
A total of 1,080 children’s pajamas were donated for the project on the Mall from as far away as Alaska. 90 volunteers took part in the installation on Sunday which lasted 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Commercial artist Richard Zandler of Catonsville Md. designed the layout. Howard County Indivisible (Md.), the group organizing the protest, professes to be “part of a nationwide progressive movement to preserve American democracy”.
The “Where are the Children?” project grew out of an idea from 16 year old high school student Alex Kohn through his work with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Columbia, Md. to call attention to the fact that the government is violating a decades-old, court-approved agreement that migrant children should not be detained for more than 20 days and must be released to their parents or a family member.
Declared Kohn, “No child should go to bed without a parent or loved one to tuck them in at night.”
View Jeff Malet’s photos from the “Where are the Children?” installation on the National Mall by clicking on the photo icons below.