Thursday, August 28, 2014

Poster of the Week

Chicano Moratorium
Ramses Noriega
Silkscreen, 1970
Los Angeles, CA

Friday, August 29, marks the 44th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, a movement of Chicano activists opposed to the war in Viet Nam. Formally known as the National Chicano Moratorium Committee, it was broad-based but fragile coalition of Mexican-American groups organizing against the war and for civil rights. Led by activists from local colleges and members of the "Brown Berets," a group with roots in the high school student movement that staged walkouts in 1968, the coalition peaked with an August 29, 1970 march in East Los Angeles that drew an estimated 30,000 demonstrators. 

Three unarmed civilians were killed that day by the L.A.P.D. and L.A. Country Sheriffs: Brown Beret Lynn Ward, activist Angel Diaz, and journalist Rubén Salazar.

Rubén Salazar was a well-known writer and journalist for KMEX-TV and the Los Angeles Times.  After covering the Chicano moratorium march on August 29, Salazar and two friends stopped for a beer at the Silver Dollar Bar near Laguna Park.  Sheriffs surrounded the place, allegedly looking for a man with a rifle, who had actually been caught hours before. A ten-inch tear-gas projectile was shot into the bar to make the occupants leave.  The missile hit Salazar and killed him. He body was left there for hours.

40 years later there are still many unanswered questions surrounding his death. Before dying Salazar had been working on a story that highlighted how local government seemed intent on ignoring all the complaints and violations involving police and sheriff encounters with Mexican-Americans.  No one was ever tried for his death, even though sheriffs admitted the tear-gas should not have been used in the incident.

In March 2010, the Los Angeles Times filed a California Public Records Act request for records of the shooting.  Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca refused to release eight boxes of records regarding Salazar’s death. Two years later, on April 23, 2012, Baca was sued by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) for continuing to refuse to release records regarding Salazar’s death.  Finally on December 6, 2012, MALDEF secured the release of unredacted records in the Salazar case.

Unprovoked attacks by law enforcement continue to take place throughout the country. Michael Brown (18, Ferguson, MO), Ezell Ford (25, Los Angeles, CA); Eric Garner (43, Staten Island, NY) are recent examples of police violence against the people they are supposed to protect. 

CSPG’s Poster of the Week announced the coming moratorium.  The artist was a founder of the Chicano Moratorium, and the poster features Rosalío Muñoz, the first Chicano student body president of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  In 1969, Muñoz refused induction and burned his draft card in protest over Chicano casualties in Viet Nam. In 1970, he was co chair of the Chicano Moratorium

Monday, August 18, 2014

Poster of the Week

Guilty of Brutality
Photographer: Charles Brittin
Community Alert Patrol
Offset, 1966
Los Angeles, California

This week’s poster, issued by Community Alert Patrol with photograph taken by Charles Brittin in 1966, addresses police brutality during the Watts Rebellion of 1965 and draws stark parallels to the recent uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri, where the police murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, sparked nationwide protests over police brutality and racial injustice in America.

“They beat and terrorized thousands of our brothers and sisters last August! How many of us will they brutalize this year?” reads this week’s poster, in reference to the Watts Rebellion that took place in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles from August 11 to 17, 1965. Over the course of the six-day rebellion, 14,000 California National Guard troops were mobilized in South Los Angeles and a curfew zone encompassing over forty-five miles was established in an attempt to restore public order. In the end, the clashes claimed the lives of thirty-four people, resulting in more than one thousand reported injuries, and almost four thousand arrests. Throughout the crisis, public officials advanced the argument that the riots were the work of outside agitators; however, an official investigation, prompted by Governor Pat Brown, found that the riot was a result of the Watts community's longstanding grievances and growing discontentment with high unemployment rates, substandard housing, and inadequate schools. Despite the findings, city leaders and state officials failed to implement measures to improve the social and economic conditions of African Americans living in the Watts neighborhood.

The past week has seen an outpouring of dramatic images of protests in the St. Louis suburb, where community members were met by police in full riot gear, with rifles, shields, helmets, dogs, and gas masks. According to an autopsy released Sunday evening, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot 18-year-old Michael Brown at least six times, twice in the head. On Monday morning, the National Guard was called after a state-sanctioned curfew was put into place and residents were tear-gassed and fired on with rubber bullets night after night.

Police officers, security guards, or self-appointed vigilantes extra-judicially killed at least 313 African-Americans in 2012 according to a recent study. This means one black person was killed by a security officer every 28 hours. Last Monday, on the anniversary of the Watts Rebellion, a 25 year-old black male, complying with police orders, was fatally shot by LAPD officers in the Florence neighborhood of South Los Angeles. His name was Ezell Ford.

“The announced function of the police, ‘to protect and serve the people,’ becomes the grotesque caricature of protecting and preserving the interest of our oppressors and serving us nothing but injustice. They are there to intimidate blacks, to persuade us with their violence that we are powerless to alter the conditions of our lives.”

-Angela Davis

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Poster of the Week

Are You Ready For Big Water?
Danielle Foder; Street Art Workers (SAW)
Offset, 2006
United States

This week’s featured poster, created by Danielle Foder as part of Street Art Workers (SAW) in 2006, draws our attention to one of life’s most necessary resources: water. Universal to every living being on the planet, the right to water access is perhaps one of the most pressing issues of our time. This poster criticizes the increased privatization of water, asking that we “protect water for people. Not for profit.”

At the beginning of this year, California declared a state of emergency in the face of a historic and unprecedented drought. While California is facing its own water crisis, the issue of water access impacts countless throughout the world. Detroit recently shut off water service to thousands of residents who could not afford to pay their bills. Over the past decade, Detroit city residents have seen the rates of water costs more than double, while the city’s poverty rate has risen to nearly 40 percent, putting the cost of basic running water beyond reach for tens of thousands of households. According to Detroit Water and Sewerage Department records, industrial and commercial businesses owing millions have not been touched.

In April 2000, a popular struggle against water privatization in Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third largest city, organized a movement against rising water costs from the U.S. based Bechtel corporation. Through a broad alliance of farmers, factory workers, rural and urban water committees, neighborhood organizations, indigenous communities, and students, the U.S. corporation was forced to leave the country, restoring popular, democratic control of natural resources to the people.

As the struggle for water access intensifies throughout the world, we can learn from people-led movements working to find solutions to the global water crisis we face.  As the late Charity Hicks, co-founder of the Detroit People’s Water Board wrote, "We will not let water be used as a weapon to remake the city in a corporate image. We will re-establish what it is to live in a democracy, with a water system that is part of the commons, that affirms human dignity and that ensures everyone's access."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Illegal? No Human Being is Illegal
Octavio Gomez
Central American Refugee Committees (CRECEN); Central American Refugee Centers (CARECEN); Central American Refugee National Network (CARNET)
Offset, circa 1989
Los Angeles, California

This week’s featured poster, created by Octavio Gomez in 1989, and issued by Central American Refugee Committees (CRECEN), Central American Refugee Centers (CARECEN), and the Central American Refugee National Network (CARNET), advocates the protection of Salvadoran refugees, demanding a change in policy that would end deportations and allow refugees to work legally in the United States. The poster also acknowledges the difficult realities immigrants face due to social and economic conditions in their countries of origin.
This poster is especially pertinent now, as the United States has seen an influx of nearly 52,000 unaccompanied children and underage youths cross the U.S. border since October- with over 75% making their journey from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. In July of this year, tensions rose in Murrieta, California, where anti-immigrant protestors blocked U.S. Homeland Security Department buses filled with immigrant children being transported to a processing facility in the area.
While demonstrations from both sides of the immigration issue have swept the nation in the past weeks, many ignore deeper roots of the issue, which include the dangerous social and economic conditions in these Central American countries. Honduras, for example, has the highest murder rate of any country, with a rate of 90 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants. According to the National Violence Observatory, more than half of those murdered in Central America are under the age of 30. In a region controlled by drug traffickers and criminal gangs, corruption, and instability - violence threatens the lives of Central American youth, who seek asylum in the U.S. as refugees.
The poster’s phrase “No Human Being is Illegal” is attributed to Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, who explained, “You shall know that no one is illegal. It is a contradiction in itself. People can be beautiful or even more beautiful. They may be just or unjust. But illegal? How can someone be illegal?” This poster attempts to shed light on the Central American refugees by framing the situation neither as a political or partisan issue but as one concerning human rights.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Poster of the Week

End The Occupation
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Offset, 2002
Washington DC

The CSPG poster of the week shows a Palestinian child detained by Israeli forces. The poster was created in 2002 by American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), but is being featured because of the recent kidnappings and killings of both Israeli and Palestinian individuals, many of which have been teenage children.

On June 12th, 2014, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank as they hitchhiked to their homes. This act was followed by a ‘retaliation’ kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager. Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces have now been in an open fire conflict that has left hundreds in Gaza killed and thousands injured.  The latest report released on July 15th from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that 197 Palestinians have been killed and 1,390 have been wounded.  Most recent statistics have increased the number of those killed to 210, with the first Israeli civilian death since the initial June kidnapping occurring July 15th.  Of those that have been killed or wounded, alarming amounts have been women and children.  According to Gaza health ministry figures, of 1,140 wounded, 296 are children and 233 are women.

Along with the current events that are unfolding in the Israeli-Palestinian region, what this poster attempts to call attention to is the criminalization of Palestinian children. Children and underage youths make up 47% of Palestine’s population. According to a report issued by the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization dedicated to exposing human rights violations, some 2,500 Palestinian children and youth have been detained from January 2010 and June 2014, 400 of whom are between the ages of 12-15. For more information on detained Palestinian children, see this accompanying infographic:

Link to UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):

Link to report:

Other sources:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Poster of the Week

Freedom From Choice
Robbie Conal
Offset, 1992
Los Angeles

Roe v Wade was the landmark 1974 7-to-2 U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the United States. Conservative legislators around the country immediately responded by pushing through laws and regulations that attempted to chip away Roe v Wade.  While these efforts have not succeeded in making abortion illegal, they have increasingly restricted women’s access to abortion.

CSPG’s Poster of the Week was made in response to the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey which, on a 5-to-4 vote, significantly weakened Roe v Wade and reversed its previous ruling that limited state restrictions on abortion. It is frighteningly relevant this week, when the Court, again on a 5-to-4 vote, in Burwell v Hobby Lobby, ruled that corporations controlled by religious families cannot be required to pay for contraception coverage for their female workers.

Poster Background
Planned Parenthood commissioned Robbie Conal to design this poster and they printed 25,000 copies which were then posted in 75 cities throughout the U.S.—but not in NY.  All went up the same week.  Planned Parenthood even paid for a billboard in Los Angeles which 3M took down after receiving a complaint, without notifying anyone. After being threatened with a lawsuit for breach of contract, 3M put it back up 15 hours after taking it down, and left it up for 3 months—the term of the contract.

The NY branch of Planned Parenthood didn’t participate in the postering as they were having their own issues with the city and didn’t want to add illegal postering to their problems.  New York was the only major city that didn’t participate.   

It is important to note that although Justice David Souter is included in the poster—second from the left—he dissented and did not vote with the majority.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Poster of the Week

25 years ago this week, untold hundreds of unarmed civilians were massacred in Beijing’s Tienanmen Square, by the People's Liberation Army. Since then, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has attempted to erase the event from memory and from history.

The Tiananmen Square protests were a series of demonstrations beginning April 15, 1989 in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Led mainly by students and intellectuals, the movement was generally against the government's authoritarianism, and voiced calls for economic change and democratic reform.

During the demonstrations, the students of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing built a 33 ft. statue in just four days, using foam and papier-mâché over a metal armature.  Although inspired by and resembling the Statue of Liberty, to have more closely modeled their statue on the U.S. icon would have been seen as "too openly pro-American."

The Tiananmen Square movement used mainly non-violent methods, but on June 4, 1989, PRC government troops and tanks fired into the square, killing between 400 and 3,000 civilians. The Goddess of Democracy was destroyed.

Louisa Lim, China based correspondent for NPR and the BBC, just published a book about this repression of memory, titled: The People’s Republic of Amnesia—Tienanmen Revisited. While researching the book, Ms. Lim showed many young people the iconic photograph of the still unidentified man stopping a line of tanks.  The photo, taken by Newsweek photographer Charlie Cole, won the 1989 World Press photo of the Year, and was featured in countless posters such as the one featured above.  Almost no one Ms. Kim interviewed recognized the image.  Some even asked if it were taken in North Korea or Kosovo!

But before we begin to applaud the U.S. for its freedom of speech and freedom of expression– after all, many photographs of atrocities committed in our name and with our tax dollars are available on the internet—we need to remember that 10 years before Ms. Lim wrote The People’s Republic of Amnesia, Gore Vidal wrote Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia.  Years of underfunding the U.S. educational system is finally paying off.    While few Chinese under the age of 30 may know the events of Tiananmen Square, an event that happened 25 years ago, few U.S. college students will recognize the iconic image of the hooded man from Abu Ghraib prison—and that was just 10 years ago.  Historical amnesia knows no national boundaries, but hurts us all.