Friday, July 20, 2012

Chalkers accuse Mayor of LA of being a criminal

For more information about chalking incidents involving arrests, go to and if you want to email pictures of yourself doing this evil,sometimes °illegal° deed, use

LOS ANGELES – After Thursday Night’ Downtown LA Art Walk Melee, the City blames Chalk Walk organizers for the mini riot and Chalk Walk participants blame the City for excessive show of force, violence, abuse of power, and selective enforcement.

Los Angeles City Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, told reporters that what Chalk Walkers did was against the law and not protected by the Constitution.

“That’s not free speech, that’s criminal behavior,” the Mayor told news crews after Art Walk.
Now, participants of Chalk Walk accuse the mayor of similar “criminal behavior”.

As Stephen Box points out on City Watch LA, a website about local politics, on March 7, 2009, The Mayor, City Councilmen, and other officials handed out boxes of yellow chalk to be used on the streets and sidewalk of Sunset Blvd to welcome cyclist Lance Armstrong into town to raise funds for Armstrong’s Hope Rides Again art campaign sponsored by Nike.

The City allowed iconic artist, Shepard Fairey, to use yellow chalk on the side of a building to draw an image for the event.  Fairey later donated $15,000 to Occupy LA after he used a picture of one of the participants of Occupy LA to create the Time Magazine cover for Person of the Year 2011, the Activist

Apparently, the city believes their chalking event is legal because they had a permit. However, the box the chalk comes in seems to encourage what the Mayor calls criminal behavior. 

The bright yellow box of chalk they handed out for Armstrong specifically says, “Show your commitment to the cause by filling sidewalksdriveways, and any blank canvas with your statement of intent, encouragement and inspiration.” Presumably, the box suggests that people do such things without permits.

From online photos, it appears at least one participant in the chalking for Armstrong took liberties for Freedom of Expression against the Mayor by writing “The Mayor is a Fool”.

Chalk Walkers also say the Mayor endorses Ciclavia which shuts down the streets for people to walk, bike, and chalk in the streets without worrying about cars.  The city allows chalk art in the streets for this event.

Chalk Walkers say the Venice Boardwalk is covered in advertised chalk art from Pepsi and others.

In addition, there was an anti-walmart permitted protest in Chinatown several weeks ago. Photos from the event show chalk written all over the streets. Participants of Occupy LA that attended the walmart protest –which union and non-profits organizations – had no arrests and no riot gear.

Furthermore, the week before Chalk Walk, the LA Times featured an article about the Weingart Center’s chalk-art campaign to raise money via text messaged donations for homeless in downtown.  

Additionally, the City’s own Parking Enforcers use chalk on private property when they mark tires of vehicles they wish to monitor for time restrains. However, it is illegal to remove that chalk from one’s own tires in certain circumstances.

Again, the City will argue that these events have permits yet they fail to acknowledge the Constitutional ruling of chalk as Free Speech by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in MacKinney v. Neilsen 1995, which specifically states
“No reasonable person can think chalk could damage a sidewalk.”

 “It seems like the city will only allow chalk on sidewalks if someone pays to get a permit,” said one Chalk Walker, “It’s called Free Speech for a reason, it’s supposed to be free for all people, not commodified for corporate sponsors and monied interests.”

Chalk Walkers even question whether the City of Los Angeles even has a permit specifically allowing chalking.

"Chalkvists", activists who use chalk for their activism, say the intimidation, arrests, and violence from Thursday was not simply about chalk but about political repressing their movement since they have now focused in on Central City Association, a business lobbying organization, which activists say has displaced small business owners, minorities, and homeless from down town for decades and lobbied against the 99%' interest in favor of the 1%.

LAPD had made a dozen arrests of activists before Thursday and activists were at Artwalk to do outreach to the community regarding the repression.

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*PLEASE NOTE: This was written by an individual participant in Occupy LA but is not an official statement.  All official statements have to have consensus from Occupy LA's general assembly.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fort Manning in Los Angeles, Chalking, and Gerry's Arrest

I've never been in a city where the cops have so much enthusiasm for harassing Occupy folks and over-reacting with violence and stupidity.  The big deal right now is that it's supposedly illegal to "chalk" (write or draw with chalk) the sidewalks - some cop told us that it's OK to chalk the sidewalks, just not the walls of buildings.  However, I went over to Ft Manning near City Hall today and there was no chalk on the ground, so I wrote "Chalking is Free Speech".  After about an hour, the cops came over, took pictures of my writing, called headquarters, and started asking who did it.  It turns out they had an agreement with the Occupiers that they would not make people remove their signs from the grass if nobody would chalk the sidewalks.  This is just NUTTY!  Anyway, I hadn't heard about the agreement and didn't fess up to my evil deed, which I repeated later at a different location.

I think this law or rule must be against the first amendment, so I would like to distribute chalk all over the city and use my little tag on every street corner!  Hopefully I'll get arrested and can take it up the ladder to declare that if money is free speech, certainly chalk would also qualify!!

If drawing on the streets with chalk is a crime, I'd like to report a massive breakdown of civil authority in my neighborhood. I recommend a phalanx of officers in riot gear, because some of these 8-year-olds drawing hopscotch grids on the sidewalk are lawless vandals who won't hesitate to get sassy with authority figures.

It turned out that the park we were in is supposed to close at 7 pm (posted in an obscure place), so the cops arrived in force at 6:50 to tell us to get our stuff and leave.  Not much notice and it wouldn't have happened if we were anybody else that just happened to have a long-running meeting (General Assembly).  We picked up most of the stuff and moved it to the sidewalk.  Then we noticed a young black woman standing alone surrounded by cops.  She was confused, homeless, looking for where to go since she couldn't stay where she was, and concerned about a few items that were left behind, because she had seen cops throw away stuff that was left behind some other place/time.  She didn't really want to be arrested, but was pressing her point about not knowing where else to go.

Gerry decided to see if he could help the situation. He approached the woman and cops and started asking what was going on, and could he help.  They asked him to leave a couple of times, and he persisted in asking what was going on and could he assist and de-escalate the situation.  They arrested him in handcuffs!  Eventually, they undid the cuffs and made him sign a citation - unfortunately, it wasn't an "infraction" but a "misdemeanor", so he is supposed to be in court August 9.  He can't come that day - he'll be at the VFP National Convention in Miami.  Anyway, I'm proud of him for trying to help a young homeless woman, and indeed, after he showed up the pressure was completely off of her!
Yep, they really arrested him for "trespassing" because the park closed at 7 pm.

The Ft Manning group and the cops were watching each other.  The young homeless woman is on the right.

You can see the arrested Gerry in the middle of the cluster of cops