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Street art claims internment camps are coming to Boston

The signs were installed by the artist Plastic Jesus.
The signs were installed by the artist Plastic Jesus. Handout

The Trump administration has announced no plans for an internment camp near the Prudential Center, but on Sunday a sign appeared by the Boston landmark claiming that there would be one at a construction site in the area.

The sign was one of five posted around the Boston area as part of a nationwide political demonstration by the Los Angeles-based street artist known as Plastic Jesus. And as word of the placards traveled online, some wondered whether the signs might be legitimate.

The artist said he wanted the signs, posted at work sites complete with the presidential seal and President Trump’s signature, to be jarring.


“What I’m trying to get across is the thought that with Trump’s recent policies we’re actually possibly not that far away from some kind of detention center purely for immigrants,” said Plastic Jesus, who declined to give his real name. “A few months before the election it would have been completely unthinkable.”

After seeing pictures of the signs around Boston, one Twitter user wrote, “My heart dropped.” Another said, “This seems like satire. But also, not.”

The signs were posted just one day before the president was supposed to release a new version of his travel ban, after his initial executive order temporarily blocking entry for immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries hit legal blockades.

The artist’s team posted signs near the Prudential Center, Ruggles T stop, Boylston Street, Terrace Street, and Binney Street in Cambridge

The signs reference Executive Order 9066, the order signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942 that led to Japanese internment camps. Plastic Jesus said that the internment camps his signs envision are not limited to one ethnicity or religion.

“People seem to be getting picked up now for little more than being foreign, being a particular religion, or even having an unusual last name,” the artist said.


Plastic Jesus said that he intentionally did not seek permission to put up the signs and that he expected they would be taken down. Boston police said Sunday night they had not heard about the signs.

The signs also went up over the weekend in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, San Diego, Seattle, Houston, and Washington, D.C.

Last summer, Plastic Jesus built a wall around Trump’s Hollywood star, presumably mocking one of the then-candidate’s signature campaign promises. In spring 2016, the artist posted “No Trump anytime” signs that were designed to look like “No parking anytime” street signs.

Reena Karasin can be reached at reena.karasin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reenakarasin.