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UPDATE: CREDO Action Shuts Down Escalators at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Conference While Nielsen Speaks

CREDO Action co-director Heidi Hess released the following statement after shutting down the escalators at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit while former DHS head Kirstjen Nielsen spoke on stage:

“Fortune and PBS just gave Kirstjen Nielsen a platform to double down on family separation and continue to lie to the American people about her complicity with Trump’s dangerous racism. We appreciate Amna Nawaz pushing back on Nielsen’s repeated attempts to lie and dodge questions, but she was still helping legitimize Nielsen’s comeback tour by letting her recontextualize her actions and reenter Fortune’s world of powerful women. No one should be helping sweep the terrible trauma Nielsen inflicted upon thousands of immigrant families under the rug. Fortune and PBS should be ashamed of themselves for elevating toxic waste like Kirstjen Nielsen.”

Mobile Billboard Circles Women’s Conference & Calls Out Fortune Magazine for Rehabilitating Kirstjen Nielsen’s Image

Washington, DC — Activists made their presence known as women entered the main day of sessions at Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women conference at the Mandarin Oriental in DC, urging them to them to take a stand against Fortune’s decision to feature Kirstjen Nielsen as one of its top speakers even after headliners Hillary Clinton, Brandi Carlile, and dream hampton dropped out, refusing to share a platform with the notorious child snatcher.

A mobile billboard circled in front of the conference hotel, featuring an image of Nielsen on the side which says “Powerful women don’t put kids in cages. Fortune: Stop normalizing hate.” The billboard also called out Fortune for enabling Nielsen to use them as the first stop on her post-Trump reputation rehabilitation tour.

CREDO Action attempted to greet attendees of the conference with pamphlets explaining why Nielsen is an inappropriate speaker at an event billed as elevating powerful, inspiring women and their stories. The pamphlets encourage attendees to protest Nielsen themselves by including a sign saying “I stand with immigrants,” and to tweet their opposition to her speaking using the conference’s hashtag, #FortuneMPW. Greeters were removed from hotel property by security. Take a look at more images below.

“Kirstjen Nielsen caused an immeasurable amount of trauma to thousands of immigrant families and children separated at the border by her order,” said CREDO Action campaign manager Jelani Drew-Davi. “Fortune did serious harm to its own reputation by inviting her to speak unfettered on their stage and Powerful Women Summit attendees should be outraged that Fortune has made them complicit in Nielsen’s rehabilitation tour. ,” No Trump accomplice should be given a platform to rehabilitate their image and sanitize their cruel history — they should be treated as the toxic waste they are, not elevated as keynote speakers, given star interviews or book deals, or taught to samba.”

As reported by the Washington Post, Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, and more, CREDO Action spearheaded a grassroots effort with Bend the Arc, Define American, and Families Belong Together, to pressure Fortune to disinvite Nielsen — who championed the cruel and racist family separation policy at the DHS. More than 53,000 signed a petition calling on Fortune to refuse to give a platform to Nielsen, and CREDO members took over the #FortuneMPW hashtag on Monday with hundreds of tweets.

Images from the protest:

CREDO Action protests Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference for elevating former DHS head Kirstjen Nielsen, who championed the Trump administration’s cruel and unlawful family separation policy.

CREDO Action co-director Heidi Hess greets attendees of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference, handing them pamphlets containing information and a sign to encourage attendees to protest during Kirstjen Nielsen’s interview later today.

Security for Fortune’s Most Powerful Women conference and the Mandarin Orientel hotel remove CREDO Action co-director Heidi Hess from hotel property.

CREDO Action’s ongoing work to hold DHS heads accountable:

  • CREDO Action, Define American, Bend the Arc, and Families Belong Together have led the massive grassroots outcry on social media, taking over the #FortuneMPW hashtag to call on Fortune to disinvite Kirstjen Nielsen from their conference.
  • Recent backlash from CREDO Action and other progressives also forced former DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to back out of the 2019 Atlantic Fest.
  • CREDO Action also held a 2018 protest at Nielsen’s home, playing audio of crying children who had been separated from their families at the border.
  • Earlier this month, CREDO Action, along with activists from other immigration and progressive organizations and Georgetown Law students forced then-DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan off the stage before he could deliver the keynote speech at an immigration conference in DC. Four days later, McAleenan resigned.
  • In 2018, after the death of a 7-year-old asylum-seeker in Customs and Border Patrol custody, CREDO Action confronted then-CBP head McAleenan directly by putting a projection on his home, calling on him to resign.

CREDO Action, part of CREDO Mobile, is a social change network of millions of activists, sending tens of millions of petition signatures and hundreds of thousands of phone calls to decision-makers each year. CREDO Action members also participate in meetings, protests and other direct action for progressive change.


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