As her headshot indicates, Naomi Pitcairn is FIERCE. Her fearlessness has been a signature quality for a long time: she competed at the highest level of a dangerous equine event and has painted billboards dozens of stories above ground in NYC as an art school graduate. Her latest calling is her most audacious yet: challenging the status quo with political art to jolt the public’s attention to social justice issues she believes are big threats to our democracy. At a time when most of us most of us have given up on the possibility of positive change, protesting can seem pointless and—judging from reports of police abuse—potentially life-threatening. Apathy, resignation, and cynicism are sadly society’s norm. What’s continually impressive to me about Naomi is her indefatigable creativity in the face of all that negative noise; she never stops singing her own tune—fuck ‘em if they don’t like her “voice,” at least it will make people stop and think. As you’ll read in her posts, her exuberance is so infectious, strangers off the street start “singing along” to advance her creations. Whether or not you agree with her politics, I think you have to agree her art-ivism is a potent form of jubilation in action. As the Fool in every Shakespearean play always has the pulse on what’s most important, Naomi’s art-ivism spotlights what really matters. Fierce Fools’ lives matter.
~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatrix-in-Chief
Chalkupy Part Two – Chalk the Police
OPD lies and ignores their own protocols when it comes to activists. They arrested us on trumped up charges. They arrest people on antiquated statutes. They feed witnesses names, sometimes the wrong names. They shoot rubber bullets and tear gas directly at innocent people at close range. They keep the ambulances away from crowd control situations. They do nothing to help protesters they have injured. They lie in court. They chase sleeping homeless people off benches. They refuse to come to poor neighborhoods after shoot-outs. They refuse to show up to burglarized homes. They don’t prosecute or even arrest people who have plowed into crowds of protestors, seriously injuring people. They make false claims, giving photos of people to the press, accusing people they don’t like of things they know they haven’t done. They block all exits and then arrest people for not obeying impossible orders to “disperse.” These are the things I have personally witnessed. I’m not alone. Oakland spent over 74 million dollars between 1990 and 2014 to settle over 417 police brutality lawsuits. That’s taxpayer dollars.
Chalkupy believes OPD has gone too far. Our second act would be to chalk the police. For it, I redesigned the OPD badge.
This is Oscar Grant Plaza
Oscar’s murder was caught on multiple cell phones and the videos led to an almost universal outrage. The videos show BART officer Mehserhle shooting Grant in the head while he is handcuffed, face down on the ground.
There were protests and riots against police brutality. Stores and restaurants around Oakland still display signs demanding justice for Oscar, some sincerely and others maybe to avoid trouble…
Officer Mehserle’s trial was moved to LA, where he was convicted of a lesser offense than the original murder charge which led to further protest. The video is hard to ignore. It sure looks like a cold blooded shooting of a face down, handcuffed man.
The videos are probably the only reason he was convicted of anything. Occupy Oakland renamed Frank Ogawa Plaza, the park in front of City Hall: Oscar Grant Plaza.
~~~Naomi Pitcairn has a Masters in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design. She has worked as a billboard painter, an illustrator, writer, monkey trainer and some other crazy things. She became radicalized when she saw police shooting directly at protestors who were trying to rescue an old lady with a teargas canister stuck under her wheelchair at Occupy Oakland. Nothing has been the same since.