On Wednesday evening, February 12, art consultant Ruth Kalb, also known as Ruth Vered, was dragged out of a Sag Harbor restaurant and arrested after kicking a police officer. The 80-year-old former Hamptons gallerist was attending a screening for Conscience Point, Treva Wurmfeld’s award-winning documentary interrogating the tension between the Shinnecock Nation and the wealthy Hamptons population occupying its ancestral land. Tela Troge, a tribal attorney for the Shinnecock legal department, told the East Hampton Star that during the Q&A, Vered, “went on a horrible rant about Indians and victimization and how she was proud to have white privilege and called herself the ‘queen of white privilege.’”
According to Troge, the seemingly intoxicated Vered declared “she wouldn’t be made to feel bad for Indians because she works so hard and maybe [Indigenous Americans] should get jobs.”
The Independent, an East-End newspaper that co-sponsored the nonprofit HamptonsFilm event at Il Tutto Giorno, reports that Vered was asked several times to stop before her microphone was cut off and confiscated. The police were called by the restaurant manager, Juan Navarro.
In a video posted by Page Six, Vered can be seen struggling with the officers as she is escorted out, and appears to kick the officer. “Ma’am, you are being put under arrest for assaulting a police officer,” one officer says to the former gallerist after pinning her to the ground and handcuffing her. After denying the kick and declaring “the police officer assaulted me,” the officer responds to Vered, “You kicked me in the leg. Yes you did. All you had to do was walk out, that’s it.”
After her arrest, Vered was processed and released, and will be arraigned on February 28 in the Sag Harbor Village Justice Court.
Conscience Point delves into the underrepresented history of the Native American community on Long Island’s East End, often overshadowed by the glitzy veneer of wealth cast on the townships by summer tourist crowds. “I wasn’t in attendance and was disturbed to hear about Vered’s anti-Indigenous rant,” Conscience Point director Treva Wurmfeld tells Hyperallergic. “The Shinnecock have faced abuse and racism for centuries, dating back to the arrival of the English in 1640 and obviously continuing to this day. Conscience Point shines a light on this injustice and hopefully continues to raise awareness. The more allies for the Shinnecock, and all Indigenous people, the better.”
Last year, the Shinnecock Indian Nation erected a 61-foot electronic billboard on Sunrise Highway, a heavily trafficked route that passes through the Hamptons, to sell and display advertisements. The move was met with disdain for its alleged disruption to the pastoral landscape of Long Island’s East End, including a cease and desist letter from the New York State Department of Transportation. The Shinnecock Tribal Council responded saying, “We have been good neighbors since 1640, but our good nature has been met with encroachment, theft of land, racism, and double talk.” The council members added that revenue from the billboard will help shrink the “economic disparity that has plagued our community for generations.”