Artsy Fancy




Members of Occupy LA Chalk Up Art Walk in Protest of a Dozen Arrests for Chalk

LOS ANGELES – Members of Occupy Los Angeles plan to occupy this week’s Downtown LA Art Walk with “Free Chalk for Free Speech” after 12 LAPD arrests of Occupiers for water-soluble chalking on the public sidewalks in the last month.

Over six months after Envoys of the United Nations wrote a letter to the Obama Administration, the U.S. government has yet to response to requests regarding local repression of the Occupy movement. Members of Occupy LA plan to push the issue with local and federal governments after alleged increase of Rights violations by LAPD.

Occupiers feel LAPD has targeted them in attempt to silence their dissent and stop their actions. Courtroom witnesses have been threatened with arrest; Occupiers have been arrested for chalk art; and say they say they are victims of police misconduct.

Occupiers claim the LAPD have made 12 Occupy arrests in four weeks for chalking.

In a letter dated June 4, Carol Sobel, a Civil Rights lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild, explained to the Special Assistant for Constitutional Policing for the LAPD that the 9th Circuit unanimously held that “no chalk would damage a sidewalk” in MacKinney v. Nielsen from 1995.

“Given that this decision is now 18 years old, there is no excuse for these arrests,” states Sobel in the letter.

Occupiers say LA’s current graffiti laws do not reflect the Constitutional ruling yet. Activist point out that elected officials and police officers are sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution. However, many Occupiers feel individuals of these entities systematically repress their Rights.

The City of Orlando recently spent $200,000 defending a chalk-art arrest of an Occupier in Florida. The city lost that case and activists say that the City of Los Angeles could waste over $2.5 million dollars defending the 12 chalking arrests this month.

Occupiers believe the LAPD selectively enforces the graffiti laws against them while the City’s own Parking Enforcement officers use chalk on the tires of vehicles they wish to monitor for time restrictions.

The activist also say, that the police did not arrest any activists at an anti-Walmart protest, two weeks ago, in downtown organized by Labor unions and other community groups.  From photos of the event, it clearly had plenty of chalk art written on the pavement surrounding the activities.

Activists argue the chalk comes in packaging marketed for sidewalk use and that the water-soluble chalk does not cause damage.

Members of Occupy LA allege that City Officials violate Title 42 Chapter 21, subsection 1, section 1983 for Federal law and California Civil Code 52.1. They say LAPD officers— under the color of law— interfere with their exercise and enjoyment of their Rights by threats, intimidation, and coercion and subjects them to deprivation of their rights.  

To avoid prosecution, the City required dozens of Occupy LA arrestees to take a First-Amendment-Rights class administered through the City Attorney’s office.  Now, Occupy LA says it is the City that needs a lesson in the First Amendment.

*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.