For Kini Seawright, and all the other women who bury a loved one due to police or prison violence...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Art of Resistance: Justice Day Action at the Phoenix Art Museum!

On August 10, 2012 a small handful of us in Arizona celebrated Prisoners' Justice Day, which is a day to remember those who have died in state custody.  Some of us in the "free world" descended upon the Phoenix Art Museum for a sunrise action, seizing the public space in front of their sign on Central and Coronado for our canvas. There, about 25 members of the community chalked a 100-foot wide community memorial to nearly 70 victims of prison violence, neglect or despair, recommitting in the process to our fight for the living as well.

Security at the Art Museum seemed slow to respond for their part and they were mean when they did - we'd covered at least 80 feet by the time the chief came out to find out what was going on (he's lucky I can't find his card now and name him...). Turns out he called the Phoenix Police to see if they could send someone out to stop me, but Sgt Schweikert told him it wouldn't do any good. So, unable to have me arrested for soiling "their" clean sidewalk with my free speech, the custodians of our community's art and culture had a city crew hover on stand-by to wash away the names of the dead - including those put down by their mothers - the moment we left the sidewalk. 


I found that to be downright disrespectful of everything from the first amendment to the grief of the families who were with us that day, not to mention petty and intolerant. If we were there about sick children and cancer instead of dying prisoners and AIDS or Hep C, would they have been less cruel? We decided that they wouldn't render us invisible again that easily, and Facebook was flooded with photos of the morning's action, mostly of the names of the dead.

In addition to the mothers of Carlo Krakoff, Joseph Venegas, and Dana Seawright, and loved ones of current prisoners, we were joined by former prisoners, anarchists from my neighborhood, Occupiers I was arrested with, artists from the Firehouse Gallery, immigrant rights activists, and Haley from the Phoenix Harm Reduction Organization (PHRO - check them out!). A cross section of the community I live and work in - small wonder that the Phoenix Art Museum thought it was too good for us.

Below is a little something I made from the photos of the action, many of which were taken by my comrade from 4th Ave jail, Janet Higgins, who made a special effort to document the individual names. Please print it up and send it inside, if you correspond with any prisoners. Let them know they have not been forgotten...