I wrote a piece on last night’s ChalkWalk debacle in Los Angeles for Care2. Read it, sign the petition.
I’ve seen on the internet that a lot of people thinking chalking is a pretty trivial topic, but they’re failing to see the bigger picture. Chalk is not Occupy’s #1 cause. This is about showcasing how the elite, with help from the police, are systemically stifling Americans’ supposedly protected rights to protest. 99% of the time, the police are not going to bother citing chalk users with trumped up vandalism charges. They are selectively arresting to intimidate and prevent dissent.
The police’s vast overreaction showed just how necessary this type of action is. If they’re willing to go to those extremes to deprive people of the seemingly inconsequential right to use chalk, imagine what lengths they’ll go to to deprive you of rights you’d assume you already have… until you try to use them.
Other critics have said Occupy is responsible for the violence because they “knew” that using chalk on the street would result in extreme police force. Firstly, how is that somehow worse than the police firing at a crowd of people for using chalk? And secondly, good for them if they did know, because it just highlights what an oppressive police state we live in, as well as who the police are really there to serve.
The Occupiers weren’t even in a fight with the police in this case. Most had left the scene. It was the unaffiliated civilians who took on the cause. They watched people being shoved and arrested for drawing with chalk and were angered – angered at a police department that has not endeared itself to its citizens in the past decades. Still, there was no riot… until police showed up in riot gear. People then interpreted a peaceful, yet agitated scene as a riotous one and acted accordingly.
The police got the riot they were looking for, and hopefully more people will come to see through it. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to help them see the light by chalking out messages of oppression. Fuck the arbitrary laws that police are inventing. One LAPD officer on the scene said that chalk wasn’t considered vandalism and another guy said chalking was illegal “for right now” as if they were just making up the law on the spot to make some arrests, which – yep, pretty much. They know that many of these charges don’t even stick. So chalk on, my friends. Plus, given my aversion to touching and hearing chalk, you know this is a firm commitment to the cause.