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