Last night, nearly a hundred protesters assembled on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library to show their support for Ai Weiwei and other free thinkers who have been censored by the Chinese government. In a rally staged by PEN American Center, throngs of demonstrators came together first to hear a reading of works by Ai Weiwei, writer Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia, and Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti.
Supporters came bearing Shepard Fairey's recognizable poster of the Chinese dissident artist. Some chose to bind their wrists in replica handcuffs. Others held up homemade signs that echoed Ai Weiwei's very question "Where is my passport?" After the reading, the crowds proceeded to the Brooklyn Museum along with members of the NYC Light Brigade, who lit up the streets with their luminous free-expression signs.
The night concluded with a special video message from Ai Weiwei, who emphasized the importance of society working together to foster creativity and challenge authority. Free expression, he said, "is a very very essential value for artists to protect and to fight for. It will never come as a gift ... " Preach.
Check out some photos from Take a Stand for Free Expression in China above. Below is a video of everything that went down last night, but the best part begins at 38:26, when the Ai Weiwei message starts rolling.