Somali Detainees Await Their Fate; Frank Stella Takes Over the NSU Museum

Jan 20, 2018

Ninety-two Somali detainees await their fate after a failed deportation attempt prevented them from reaching Somalia. The plane, reportedly charted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  and destined to Mogadishu, only made it as far as Dakar, Senegal where it was parked on the runway for a day. We talked to Rebecca Sharpless, a law professor at the University of Miami and head of the university’s immigration clinic, which along with some advocacy groups is suing the government over alleged mistreatment of these detainees.

Advocates of the detainees say they remained shackled at the ankles, waist, and wrist, and were without air conditioning and adequate access to food, water and bathroom facilities.  

But an ICE official said, “The aircraft, including the detainees and crew on board, remained parked at the airport to allow the relief crew time to rest. During this time, the aircraft maintained power and air conditioning, and was stocked with sufficient food and water.”

Then, the official said, the decision was made to reschedule the repatriation efforts and return to the U.S.

Rebecca Sharpless says the Somalis told her that agents pushed, poked, kicked and dragged detainees on the plane.

But ICE Deputy Director Tom Homan says “these aliens were lawfully ordered removed from the U.S. after full and fair proceedings.”  And he says the majority of the detainees have “criminal convictions, including some with convictions for murder, rape, aggravated assault, and sexual assault.”

Sharpless explained that UM medical staff examined some of the detainees at the detention centers. Their pains and scars were consistent with symptoms of abuse, she said.

Nestor Yglesias, an ICE spokesman, said "ICE is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody. ICE has a strict zero-tolerance policy for any kind of abusive or inappropriate behavior in its facilities and takes any allegation seriously.

Sharpless hopes the detainees have a meaningful opportunity for a reopening of their immigration cases. Somalis who return from the west are subject to torture and death from the anti-American, anti-western terrorist group Al-Shabab.

The judge is set to make his decision on Monday (Jan. 22).

Reviewing A Lifetime of Work

Few artists can seamlessly work in multiple disciplines and receive critical acclaim. Of those elite creators, not many can be considered to be leaders of  entire artistic movements. Frank Stella, celebrated as the most significant living American artist, has continuously reinvented his style over the decades, captivating audiences with his adventurous renditions and gargantuan hybrid painting-sculptures.

Stella, 81, has experimented with different artistic parameters such as color, depth, texture, scale and different materials throughout his 60-year career.

“Experiment and Change” is a retrospective of his lifetime’s work is being presented at the NSU Museum in Fort Lauderdale

Stella began painting at around age 15. His mother was an artist. His mother and his high school teachers continuously encouraged him to paint. While at Princeton, he majored in history, but took art classes and would paint often.

At the time of his graduation, Stella moved to New York where he began to consider a career as an artist. He failed a physical exam which allowed him to dodge the draft.

“it was a good time,” he said about trying to be an artist in New York City. “There wasn’t this feeling where you had to pay your dues over time.”

Stella’s minimalist Black Paintings were featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York when he was only 23.

Stella uses different colors, shapes and scales to draw his audience to his work. “What you see is what you see,” is his famous adage. He does not try to control what people see because “there’s nothing much you can do about what the audience sees in your work,” he said.

The octogenarian’s career is far from over. Stella is continuing to work on different projects. 

The exhibition is composed of approximately 300 paintings, featuring relief sculpture and drawings, which track his minimalism and maximalism periods. The exhibit will be on view until July 8,  2018.