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."