Vivienne Westwood’s Bird Cage Julian Assange Statement Is Only Her Latest Imaginative Protest


A little after 8 a.m. on Tuesday in London, the designer Vivienne Westwood suspended herself in a bird cage 10 feet in the air outside of a criminal court. Wearing a canary yellow suit, she was protesting Julian Assange’s potential extradition from Britain to the United States, where he’s been charged with conspiracy to hack government computers and espionage. “I am the canary in the coal mine,” she yelled, according to the New York Times.

Through a megaphone she continued to a crowd of cheering protesters: “If I die down the coal mine from poisonous gas, then that’s the signal.”

As the paper points out, outside of Westwood’s storied connections to London’s punk music and fashion, she’s staged other such imaginative protests in the past. In 2015, she drove a tank to David Cameron’s home to protest fracking. And as W noted, Westwood distributed “I am Julian Assange” T-shirts at her spring 2013 runway show at London’s Ecuadorean embassy, where Assange was sheltering at the time. (Ecuador withdrew his asylum last year, and he was removed from the embassy.)

In this case Westwood drew an equivalence between Assange and a canary: “I am Julian Assange,” read the sign below her. The BBC reported that she said, “If the canary died, [miners] all got out. Julian Assange is in a cage, and he needs to get out. Don’t extradite to America.”

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