Friday, June 29, 2012

Poster of the Week

The Only Cure for a Sick America
Is SINGLE-PAYER National Health Insurance
Angela Fegan and Dave Howell    
Physicians for a National Healthcare Program
Salsedo Press
Offset, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts did not vote as anticipated on Obama’s healthcare program, and everyone is putting their own spin on his action, trying to understand it.  While many on the Right promise to overturn it as soon as Romney is elected, many on the Left are saying that it isn’t surprising that he voted for it since it will enrich the insurance companies. 

The most memorable action/reaction came from Fox News and CNN.  Both networks were so positive that the Supreme Court would invalidate the program, that they repeatedly but mistakenly announced that the individual mandate had been struck down. CNN political reporter John King described it as "a dramatic blow to the policy and to the President, politically." Fox News, too, announced that the Court had found the individual mandate "unconstitutional." 

One of the wittiest responses was, of course, visual.   Making the rounds on tv and the internet, was a photo-shopped parody of the famously inaccurate banner headline on the front page of the Chicago Tribune from November 3, 1948.  Truman had won, but the Chicago Tribune headline stated "Dewey Defeats Truman." The famous photo shows Truman holding up the headline.  The contemporary parody shows Obama holding up an Ipad, with the CNN page stating:  “Mandate Struck Down.”   Obama even heard the wrong news first on Fox…why is he even watching Fox?

Fortunately, the alternative press such as Pacifica’s Democracy Now ! used the opportunity to talk about a single-payer health care, or MEDICARE FOR ALL, which is the topic of our Poster-of-the-Week. 

Thank you to Physicians for a National Healthcare Program for letting us feature their poster. We may have 80,000 posters, but very few about single-payer. If any artists or organizations have posters about this issue, or any others, please contact us.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Posters of the Week

500 Years of Racism Enough!
Red Sun Press
Offset, 1991
Boston, Massachusetts

End the Media Ban in California Prisons
Kim McGill
Digital Print, 2012
Los Angeles, California

CSPG’s Poster of the Week uses two posters, more than two decades apart, to focus attention on the abuse of power by those in the criminal justice system.  The first poster, produced in 1991, shows a still from a video tape documenting four police officers  continuously beating  and kicking Rodney King while he lay on the ground, unarmed, on March 3, 1991.  King's skull was fractured in eleven places and he suffered brain and kidney damage.  Rodney King died this week, on June 17, 2012 at age 47.  The outrage generated by the video tape of his beating brought widespread attention to police abuse in Los Angeles.  Six days of rioting resulted when the four police officers were acquitted of all charges on April 29, 1992.

Unprovoked police abuse was not uncommon in black, brown and low income communities, but until the Rodney King video tape was shown, the majority of people outside these economically marginalized neighborhoods were unaware of its severity or frequency.  This videotaped changed the way people looked at the L.A.P.D. and led to the beginning of police reforms.  The omnipresence of video cameras continues to document police abuse across the country and around the world, from Oakland to Tahrir Square, and has become a critical tool in documenting abuses and promoting transparency.

The second poster also promotes transparency and helps document abuses.  It supports lifting the media access ban in California prisons. Since 1996, media have been prohibited from choosing their interview subjects inside prisons .  The ban was expanded In July 2011.  Following four weeks of hunger strikes by more than 400 California prisoners protesting cruel and unusual conditions, California prison officials barred journalists from meeting with the striking Pelican Bay prisoners, where the strike started.  The prisoners demanded a number of changes in the prison system already standard practice in other parts of the country, including an end to group punishment, denial of food as punishment, and ending long-term solitary confinement.  The media ban continues, but the first step to lift the media access ban has been taken.

On June 12, 2012, the California Senate Committee on Public Safety passed AB1270, a bill to lift the media access ban in California prisons.  AB1270 will now go to a vote in Senate Appropriations. It is important to note, however, that nine versions of this bill have been vetoed by three different governors.

“Despite the thousands of prisoners who participated in a statewide hunger strike last year over conditions in the prisons, it was near impossible to get unbiased information about what was happening due to these restrictions,” said Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, sponsor of AB1270, which would restore the media’s access to pre-arranged, in-person interviews with specific prisoners.

Testifying on behalf of the bill, a spokesperson for the California Newspaper Publishers Association said: “With the scrutiny and limited resources now being directed to prison facilities, this bill could not be any more timely … Most newspapers have forgone these beats … because there are so many limitations. It’s very difficult for reporters to get in and do their jobs.” A steady stream of supporters from dozens of organizations throughout the state added “me too’s” to the bill.
Media access to our state prison system ensures the transparency needed to:  1. Enable state legislators to fulfill their moral, ethical, and professional obligation to monitor prison conditions; 2. Protect the right of taxpayers to monitor public institutions; 3. Decrease anxiety for families who worry daily that the violence, health epidemics or overcrowding inside prisons will exact permanent or lethal damage on their loved ones inside; 4. Increase safety for both Corrections staff and those incarcerated - (CCPOA supports the bill); and 5. Educate the entire community on Corrections issues. As many throughout history have reminded us, society is judged by how we treat those in prison. Transparency is essential to ensure democracy and justice. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Poster of the Week

CSPG’s Poster of the Week celebrates a Victory Against Repression: 
 All Felony Charges against Carlos Montes Dropped 

Carlos Montes is a nationally respected leader in the Chicano, immigrant rights, and antiwar movements. He was a co-founder of the Brown Berets, a Chicano working class youth organization in the late 1960s and 1970s. The Brown Berets were inspired by and often compared to the Black Panther Party. Montes was one of the leaders of the Chicano Blowouts, a series of 1968 walkouts of East Los Angeles high schools to protest racism and inequality in Los Angeles-area high schools. He is portrayed by Fidel Gomez in the 2006 HBO movie Walkout.

With the 2003 Bush administration war and occupation of Iraq, Montes helped form and lead L.A. Latinos Against War. Montes helped organize protests against the September 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MN.

In December 2008, Montes was a founding member of the Southern California Immigration Coalition, to fight against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and police repression; and organize the yearly May 1 marches and rallies to demand full legalization. He is also currently active in the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, and has been organizing against unnecessary FBI raids which tend to focus on dismantling and preventing activist group activity through intimidation.

On May 17, 2011 Montes was arrested by the combined forces of the LA County Sheriff’s Swat Team and the FBI. With automatic assault rifles drawn, they crashed his door down at 5:00 a.m., almost killing him. His home was ransacked and his computer, cell phones, and hundreds of documents such as photographs, diskettes, and mementos of his current political activity were removed by FBI. He was charged with 6 serious felonies with a possible jail time of up to 18 years.

With local and national support, via solidarity protests, call-in campaigns to President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Holder, local rallies and protests, and an offensive legal strategy , two felonies were dropped - this was a first partial victory. However the District Attorney still stated that they wanted Montes to do at least 5 years in state prison for the 4 felony charges remaining.

The local and national Committees Against FBI Repression launched a petition drive and a “Call the D.A.” campaign, with phone banking and a robo call by Montes to over 4 000 supporters, urging folks to call District Attorney Steve Cooley. The D.A.’s office was flooded with calls and letters.

Montes’ attorney made several motions to get charges dropped on various grounds, but the Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected them. Preparations were made for a trial, knowing well the state judicial system is not ‘fair and impartial.’ Montes and his attorney Jorge Gonzalez got widespread support and media coverage including in the Democracy Now TV show, La Opinion and the Guardian UK newspaper.

The local D.A. on the case then sought for a resolution and proposed to drop three additional felonies, if Montes pled out to one count of perjury. This proposal included no jail time, three years of probation and community service. Under advice from supporters, friends and his attorney Montes moved forward with this proposal.

This is a victory for Carlos Montes and the movement against police political repression. A trial had the danger of him being convicted of four felonies with jail time and the additional old felony - a total of 5 felonies. At this point Montes is out of jail, will continue to organize against repression, for public education, against U.S.-led wars and for immigrant rights. He is already planning to attend the protest at the Republican National Convention on August 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.

Sources:  (Los Angeles Committee to Stop FBI Repression)