A Baltimore artist says her Facebook account was disabled after she posted pictures of her latest project, which consists in part of “Make America Great Again” hats reconstructed as KKK hoods and swastikas, San Francisco’s KTVU reports.
The hats, with white lettering on a red background, and bearing Trump’s campaign slogan, have become something of a symbol of the Trump administration ever since he began his campaign.
Artist Kate Kretz says she decided to use the hats to create an art installation. The exhibit, “The MAGA Hat Collection,” is part of a larger series called the #bullyculture series. The series features the hats, taken apart and then re-created into forms she thinks more closely represent the Trump administration. One piece in her collection, for example, features pieces of hats re-assembled into a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) hood. Another features the words “Make” “America” “Great” and “Again” on the arms of a swastika.
She said she was inspired to create the installation because of the feelings she, and some of her associates, have when seeing the hat. “I feel like when I drive to rural Pennsylvania and people driving have just the word ‘Trump’ on their car…it almost felt threatening to me … I have friends of color and gay friends who tense up when they see the MAGA hat.”
BREAKING NEWS: Artist claims she was banned from Facebook for selling MAGA hats that she turned into Nazi armbands and KKK hoods. Kate Kretz from Maryland says she is only 'addressing hate speech'. As part of her work, she resews MAGA hats and sells them online. pic.twitter.com/Cyu0kjzYB4
— Dave Vescio (@DaveVescio) May 26, 2019
In fact, she says that she bought all of the hats that she used for her pieces second-hand, because she didn’t want to “put any money in Trump’s pocket.” She did purchase one directly from his website, and now she says he’s on his mailing list.
Like many artists, Kretz uses social media to promote her work. Unfortunately for Kretz, Facebook’s algorithms have seemingly failed to understand the point Kretz is trying to make. Months ago, she says, the social media platform removed all of the pictures of her hats for “violating community standards,” likely because the algorithms couldn’t differentiate the KKK hood and swastikas from actual hate speech. She got the pictures back up, this time with a disclaimer that the hats weren’t hate speech, but were themselves commentaries on hate.
However, that didn’t last long, and Facebook has since deleted her account.
“It’s really a giant mistake. I have no way of knowing if the trolls got together to report it, or if it was Facebook’s image software. Either someone saw an opportunity, or I’m a victim of a faulty system.”
Without Facebook, she says, her livelihood as an artist is in danger. To that end, she’s appealed the decision, but as of this writing, she’s gotten nowhere. She says that every morning for the past few weeks she’s filled out a form to appeal her ban, and so far, she’s failed to get into contact with a real person who can help her.
Facebook has not returned calls from the media for comment, as of this writing.