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Arts and Entertainment

Signs Designating "Future Internment Camp" Go Up At Empty Lots Nationwide

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Some pedestrians may have noticed alarming signs that went up over the weekend at various construction lots around Los Angeles. They declare the site as a "Future Internment Camp," being built under an executive order issued by President Trump.

Thankfully they're not real (yet). They're the work of Plastic Jesus, the street artist who's known for his brazen, eye-catching public displays. Late last month, he put up a crucifixion statue of Kanye West (dubbed "False Idol") on Hollywood Boulevard. The statue, which went up right before the Oscars ceremony, was meant to serve as commentary on our trenchant fascination with celebrity culture. Before that, he'd put up Oscar statues that snorted cocaine and shot up heroin.

This time around, Plastic Jesus has gone with a more overtly political message, rather than one targeting the entertainment industry. "We're seeing detention of travelers to the U.S. They have all the proper credentials, but they're being detained for the country they're coming from, as well as their race," Plastic Jesus told LAist. He is referring, of course, to the travel ban that was imposed in late January (while that order was stopped by the courts, a new one is currently in the pipeline). "I have a friend who was detained because her name was Lebanese. She was detained for a couple hours and was questioned. This was someone who has a visa," said Plastic Jesus.

The signs draw a connection between the travel ban and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. As stated on the signs, the "camps" come at the command of "Executive order 9066." That order was originally signed off by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942 (this past February marked the 75th anniversary of the order). The action basically allowed the Army to forcibly remove Japanese Americans from their homes and place them in 10 camps that were spread throughout the U.S. "I'm from the U.K. And I never knew anything about the internment camps until I'd heard about them on a radio program a few years ago. I was shocked," said Plastic Jesus.

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The main intent of the signs, he adds, is to highlight the dystopian times that we're currently living in, when discrimination has been federally sanctioned and normalized. "The feedback on the signs are shocking. Because people think they're real. A few months ago, they would have understood it was a joke. But today, people have a hard time telling," said Plastic Jesus.

In Los Angeles, the signs have gone up at such lots as the former Cat And Fiddle space at 6530 W Sunset Blvd, at La Brea and Willoughby avenues by Fairfax, and at Wilshire Boulevard and South Plymouth Boulevard near Koreatown.

The signs have also gone up in New York City, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, Boston, Houston, and D.C. They were posted over the course of the weekend, with the help of a team of covert volunteers. If you're hoping to see one in person, your chances may be slim—Plastic Jesus assumes that many of them will be taken down soon by construction workers (if they're still there). "I wouldn't imagine they'd be up for very long. Let's hope they won't return for real," he said.