On the Recent Wave of Revolutionary Street Art in Sudbury

On the Recent Wave of Revolutionary Street Art in Sudbury

garish LU lawn-display

The social media frenzy over the spray-painted slogans was in full swing by Monday morning last week. The local media outlets started to pick up the story soon thereafter. By lunchtime the news had already spread and mutated all over town. And over a week later, the wild speculation continues unabated, fueled by the appearance of more slogans.

How could something so commonplace as some red paint, hurriedly sprayed here and there, bring Sudbury to such a stir? What gave it the power to delight so many, enrage others, and escape notice by no one? Could it be that, unlike the usual graffiti we walk past every day, this time the bright red paint expresses a bright red politics, the politics of revolution? Let’s examine the scenes.

At one end of town: the garish Laurentian University lawn-display at the main campus entrance was appropriately transformed into a giant dollar sign. A slogan denouncing the capitalist post-secondary education system was included to complete the piece, which appeared in the heart of Sudbury’s enclave of the rich.

At the other end of town: walls around the working-class Donovan neighbourhood were emblazoned with revolutionary slogans. The planned mass closure of public schools was condemned in bold letters. Many of the Donovan pieces identified the RSM by name, likely in solidarity with RSM-Sudbury’s ongoing campaign against the school closures.

And downtown, two days later: similar slogans appeared on the office of the Rainbow District School Board, which is implementing the province’s austerity measures locally via the school closures and program cuts. This was the day after the march on the RDSB office led by RSM-Sudbury on Tuesday, Jan 24th.

revolution: the only solution!

A beautiful array of popular art, to be sure! And although RSM-Sudbury humbly denies responsibility for this sudden bloom of revolutionary expression, let it be known widely that we are in full support of whomever took this initiative!

We commend them for bringing much-needed attention, strikingly and without shame, to the struggles against the oppressive system that surrounds us. We’re also proud that the artist(s) gave a nod to our organization in some of their pieces, an organization that fights hard to build the revolutionary movement against capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. We join the many online and on-the-ground observers in applauding these actions. With the proper organization and revolutionary direction, the spirit of militancy and rebellion shown here can move mountains!

Yet there are also some who complain about ‘vandalism’, even openly call for violence and state repression against those responsible. They care more about the purity of a few walls than about the cuts and closures imposed on working-class youth, the inaccessibility of post-secondary education for most of us, or its subservience to the interests of profiteers instead of the people! Their misplaced concern is amplified by the deletion of supportive comments from the discussion sections of local news articles. But these crocodile tears and cheap tricks fail to sway anyone who unequivocally sides with the downtrodden against their oppressors.

Now in light of the ongoing police investigation into the past week’s events, and political repression aimed at RSM after the Jan 24th demonstration, we must remind everyone that the cops are not friends of the workers and oppressed people! They are the first line of defense against disruption of the unjust status quo. We urge everyone to refrain from talking to the cops and avoid providing any information that may put the brave artist(s) at risk. It is our duty to stand united alongside those who dare to fight for our collective liberation.

RSM-Sudbury will continue to agitate, organize and push the class struggle ever forward. We wholeheartedly support anyone who shows similar commitments, and we encourage them to reach out and connect their efforts with ours without delay.

 

Let graffiti drawings and writings be generalized in the workplace, neighborhoods, schools, universities, centers of street vendors, or workers in general. Let graffiti be in big bold letters on the walls, because only there can the people really see and express their democracy. The walls are the sheets of books where the people write their prose, their poems, their literary works to air their demands, their struggles and the songs of the Revolution… And let’s not care if the masses make spelling mistakes. They will learn later on. Let them write on the walls how they participate in the war. Let them criticize what is wrong… Thus, with the graffiti, the masses express true people’s democracy in writing…

May Directives for Metropolitan Lima
Communist Party of Peru, 1991

Solidarity with LDSS and CVDCS Student Walkouts Against School Closures!

Solidarity with LDSS and CVDCS Student Walkouts Against School Closures!

This past Wednesday, in solidarity with last week’s student walkout at Lively District Secondary School (LDSS), members of RSM-Sudbury gathered there to distribute a slightly different version of the statement below among the students, and to write messages of solidarity in chalk around the school. That same day, students at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School (CVDCS) also staged a walkout, inspired by LDSS students. We greet that action with the same enthusiasm and our statement has been amended accordingly.


Students of LDSS and CVDCS!

Down with the school closures!The Revolutionary Student Movement – Sudbury (RSM-Sudbury) congratulates you on the mass walkouts you organized over the past week to protest plans by the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) to close your schools!

As the local chapter of a country-wide organization of anti-capitalist students and youth, with members at a few high schools in Sudbury and at Laurentian University, we wish to extend to you our full solidarity and support in this struggle.

Last month we were dismayed to learn about the RDSB’s announcement of massive and accelerated cuts to school infrastructure and educational programs – but the defiant stand you have taken gives us hope! And we are sure there are many others being inspired by your rebellious spirit.

You know better than anyone about the countless hardships these closures will create for many thousands of students, families, teachers and support staff across Greater Sudbury. The loss of jobs, community resources, educational and extracurricular programmes, hopes and social bonds will be hardest felt among low-income, working-class, rural and Indigenous communities.

And for what? The RDSB is trumping up a relatively small budget shortage to justify a sweeping attack on many communities that are already struggling with effects of past school closures – and with a social, economic and political system that leaves us poor, powerless and without prospects for the future. Meanwhile the School Board has no problems finding $7 million to spend on a new office for their bureaucrats!

That is why the cuts must be fought, that is why you are fighting, and that is why RSM-Sudbury has been gearing up to join the fight by your side. When we first heard about the walkout in Lively, we were in the midst of organizing a series of student speak-outs across Greater Sudbury, including in Lively and Chelmsford, to condemn the school closures. The speak-outs are meant to let students and families express their anger and unite for mass actions, just like what you did last week. They will also provide a fighting alternative to the phoney public meetings that the RDSB will be holding in the coming weeks, the aim of which is to create the illusion of ‘community input’ and stem the tide of grassroots struggle.

And a broad, united fight to the finish is absolutely necessary, because we are going up against powerful forces that will not budge unless we force their hand. The School Board and the Government have already shown they are no friends of us students, like in Spring 2015 when they worked together to crush the high school teachers’ strike that fought for better quality of education, for smaller and more personalized classes. The system that these institutions represent offers us nothing, unless we demonstrate that we have the strength to take it regardless of the wishes of those in power.

Your example deserves to be imitated widely, both at schools directly affected by the cuts and at schools that have been spared for now. Our hope is that the speak-outs will go a small way toward building a combative movement of students and supporters in Greater Sudbury that will toss the RDSB’s plans into the trash.

Solidarity with students of LDSS and CVDCS!

Fight the school closures all across Greater Sudbury!

No compromise, no cuts!

We invite all sympathetic students and supporters who wish to work together with us to push this struggle forward to contact our Facebook page or email rsm.sudbury@gmail.com. You can also come out to our twice-weekly general meetings:

  • Tuesdays, 3:30-6pm on the main floor of the Mackenzie Public Library
  • Thursdays, 7-9pm in room C-318 (Classroom Building) at Laurentian University