LOS ANGELES – Wednesday night, Occupy Los Angeles learned that the Mayor’s office has declined an individual’s inquiryfor a chalking permit in Pershing Square for Thursday night. Despite the news of the denial letter read outloud at Pershing Square last night, participants of the Occupy LA’s General Assembly passed a proposal to endorse a “Chalk Walk” event for Thursday night during the monthly Downtown LA Art Walk.
The event theme revolves around the phrase “Another World is Possible”.
The President of Public Works, Andrea Alarcon, sent a letter to Richard Schave, a founding member of the Art Walk non-profit, denying a permit for what she claims the city considers illegal activity.
[Point of clarification: Richard Schave only inquired about a permit and did not actually apply for a permit. He also did this on his own without consent, a request, or knowledge of Occupy LA.]
“Unfortunately, a request for a permit to assemble in Pershing Square for the purposes of ‘chalking’ does not fit within the parameters of our permitting structure because the use of chalk to deface public or private property is not lawful.”
Schave independently attempted to get a permit for the group to help create a “safe space” for the group to have its activities this month after a near-riot broke out at the July 12, 2012 DTLA Art Walk caused in large part by excessive show and use of force by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). At least 17 arrests and 10 injuries resulted from the night.
Last month, a couple dozen Occupiers handed out flyers and chalk to DTLA Art Walk participants to raise awareness for what they call politically repressive chalking arrests. Prior to July’s Art Walk the group had already experienced a dozen arrests over six weeks.
Occupiers say the arrests did not start occurring until the group began targeting the Central City Association, a local lobbying firm that activists say lobbies against the 99%’s best interest, contributes campaign funds to nearly all elected officials in the City of Los Angele and gentrifies downtown by displacing low-income families, minorities, and small businesses.
In December, the General Assembly of Occupy LA came to consensus to “occupy” each DTLA Art Walk to “Mic Check” the crowd and outreach to “promote solidarity” with the art community. Members of Occupy LA have attended every DTLA Art Walk since October of 2011, when they began a two-month encampment on City Hall lawn. Occupiers say prior to July they had several arrests and disturbances but nothing like the police violence from last month.
“If chalking is illegal then why wasn’t the Mayor arrested for handing out chalk on Sunset Blvd” questions one Occupier.
In 2009, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa handed out boxes of yellow chalk that residents used on sidewalks, buildings, and even in the street with traffic. Yet, the LAPD did not show up in riot gear, arrest anyone, or shoot projectiles into the crowd that had shown up to show support for Lance Armstrong’s Hope Rides Again, a Nike sponsored art campaign.
The boxes of chalk specifically encouraged the public to write statements of support on “sidewalks, driveways, and any blank canvas.”
In addition, activists say that the Downtown LA Art Walk has had its own chalking and non-chalking “vandalism” since Occupy LA’s inception. At the November event, they allowed “Chalk Artist Tommy” to draw a chalk moral in an alley in the 600 block between Spring and Main Streets, just couple blocks away from where LAPD arrested and injured dozens last month.
In April, Joe Moller, the Executive Director of the Art Walk non-profit, allowed Street King, an energy drink company, to spray paint their logo on the public sidewalks in the Art Walk area. When residents complained of the commercial abuse of public space, Moller told them the designs were temporary, yet the designs can still be seen on the sidewalks in Little Tokyo and on Winston Street.
“There’s a double standard in this city,” said another Chalk Walk Organizer and Occupy LA participant, “If you have money or power or permits you can get away with activities otherwise deemed illegal by the City for Occupiers”.
The activists say they have chalked from the beginning of their movement ten months ago without any chalking arrests until June.
# # # *PLEASE NOTE: This was written by an individual participant in Occupy LA but it is not an official statement. All official statements have to have consensus from Occupy LA's General Assembly.