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

Oppose the Laurentian Board of Governors’ Attacks on Students! Expand the Fight to Defend the Barrie Campus! – RSM in Solidarity with Laurentian Barrie Students

Oppose the Laurentian Board of Governors’ Attacks on Students! Expand the Fight to Defend the Barrie Campus! – RSM in Solidarity with Laurentian Barrie Students

Greetings from the Sudbury chapter of the Revolutionary Student Movement (MER-RSM) to the students of Laurentian Barrie!

We stand in solidarity with you in the struggle against the University Board of Governors’ plans to shut down many of your programs in Barrie by April 2017, denying hundreds the chance to finish their education there. We are an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist student group with a presence at LU’s Sudbury campus and a high school in town, where our work includes organizing students to fight for free, accessible and democratic education, as part of building a broader revolutionary working-class movement. We were dismayed to hear last week about the Board of Governors’ unilateral and profit-driven decision, but our hopes have been high as we followed the actions you have organized so far to reclaim your education.

Students occupied the LU administrative offices in Barrie last week

We commend the initiative and militancy you have shown in pressing your demand that all Barrie students be allowed to finish the degrees they started, where they started them, until all graduate. Your recent occupation of administrative offices, your protest actions on the streets, and the action planned for April 15 in Sudbury have surely given pause to the Board of Governors that dared throw your lives in jeopardy without a second thought! Your defiant stance has even made two-faced bourgeois politicians take notice and suddenly turn warm and obliging, whereas before they never seemed to care about our daily troubles. But the fight has only begun, and we urge you to keep organizing, making links in action with faculty and other workers also affected, and upset the administration’s attempts to divide and conquer.

Many of you study at the ‘satellite’ campus in Barrie because the socio-economic constraints of life in this society have denied you access to what the Board of Governors glibly call a ‘vibrant university experience’, like what is supposedly on offer at the campus in Sudbury. But the reality for many of us here is not so different. Here too, entire departments are being eroded if not demolished to shape a more efficient factory for producing new research, skilled labour, and managers for the resource extraction industry, one of the most predatory sectors of Canadian capital. And here too many find ourselves with heavy debt, uncertain futures and no real power over fundamental decisions that affect us – and further disoriented by the liberal ideology doled out by the curriculum.

That is why your organized resistance over the past week has been a powerful rallying call for us and surely for all militant students in Ontario and beyond. But although the outpour of support so far has been very encouraging, we should consider why this solidarity has yet to really materialize in terms of larger mobilizations and actions on the ground, particularly from the official student associations that command huge resources. This absence is strongly felt at LU’s Sudbury campus, where student unions like the undergraduate Students’ General Association (SGA) have been mostly silent, compromised by their close ties to the administration and thus unable to take real measures to mobilize their members in your support.

The Laurentian Students’ Union (LSU) at Barrie is in a unique spot where their membership is up in arms and its immediate existence is threatened by the BoG’s decision anyway. Uncharacteristic of a typical students’ union, the LSU has given valuable support to the demands of the LU students at Barrie and for this they must be commended. But the SGA is under no such pressure, so while the struggle is quickly unfolding in Barrie, it has been business as usual just few hours away at the Sudbury campus.

For the RSM, this highlights the importance of maintaining political and organizational independence from the typically passive and apolitical official student associations, which in their current bureaucratic and undemocratic form tend to be obstacles to waging real struggles for our needs. That is the only way to build the kind of class-conscious student movement we need in the long run: one that isn’t afraid to fight and to win small and large victories, and at the same time is oriented toward the revolutionary transformation of existing society. Organizing in your support is an important step along that path, so that higher education can one day be free and accessible to all, a fundamentally liberating tool in the struggle against our oppressors, under democratic control in service to the oppressed and exploited in this society who need it most – and impossible to be snatched away at the whim of thieves in a boardroom.

We propose to build the #LUBarrie2019 Sudbury Mobilization Committee!

The student associations here are effectively siding with the university administration by their inaction. It is up to the students, especially those among us with the biggest stakes in resisting the Board of Governors’ continued attacks on all of us in Barrie and Sudbury, to seize the initiative and push the struggle forward. So what are we waiting for?

RSM-Sudbury calls for the formation of the #LUBarrie2019 Sudbury Mobilization Committee to open up a new front in the fight, right here on LU’s home turf. The Mobcom will be a democratic vehicle for collective struggle, not lobbyism and capitulation. It will not shy away from combativeness and political demands. It will mobilize broad sections of students and workers at the Sudbury campus for powerful actions that will help smash the administration’s anti-student agenda. And to ensure it can achieve all this, the Mobcom will maintain independence from the officially sanctioned student associations.

10362541_696533583764489_2396405001352725054_nLaunch Meeting & Action Planning
This Monday, February 29, 4-6pm
Instruction Room (30-230), J.N. Desmarais Library
Laurentian University, 935 Ramsey Lake Rd

We invite all students, faculty and service staff of LU in Sudbury who want to organize in support of the students and workers of LU in Barrie to attend the launch meeting and help shape the direction of the coming actions. Allies from the broader community are also welcome. If you want to join us but cannot attend the first meeting, or if you’re with a group that wants to endorse the Mobcom and/or send delegates, please email LU.Mobcom@gmail.com or message the Facebook page.

We also invite all Laurentian Barrie students and groups who are interested in coordinating their actions with the Mobcom to contact us without delay. We look forward to seeing many of you at the planned action on April 15 in Sudbury, for which we hope students in Sudbury can mobilize alongside yourselves.

Solidarity with Laurentian students in Barrie!

Oppose on all fronts the Board of Governors’ attacks on students!

Expand to Sudbury the struggle to defend the Barrie campus!

Join the #LUBarrie2019 Sudbury Mobilization Committee!

RSM-Sudbury Meets Every Weds, 6-8pm at Laurentian University: All Students and Youth Are Invited!

RSM-Sudbury Meets Every Weds, 6-8pm at Laurentian University: All Students and Youth Are Invited!

The Sudbury chapter of the Revolutionary Student Movement now meets every Wednesday, 6-8pm in the Clubs Room (SCE-210) at the R.D. Parker Building, Laurentian University.

Each meeting begins with reading aloud an important work of Marxist theory and discussing it in relation to today’s world, to arm ourselves with a revolutionary understanding of Canadian society as an imperialist, colonial and capitalist system based on exploitation and oppression of the majority – and how to fight to transform it as part of the broader revolutionary working class movement.

The second half of meetings is dedicated to planning actions (tabling, presentations, campaigns, etc.) to push the class struggle forward at our schools and neighborhoods. By investigating the concrete conditions of oppression faced by the working class around us, linking (in action) the people’s daily struggles against these conditions with a long-term strategy for abolishing their root cause, and winning small victories along the way, we can prove the relevance of radical politics and start to organize a new people’s power against the old order.

All students and youth are welcome. Bring your radical ideas, rebellious energy, and frustrations with education, work and life under capitalism.

If you don’t go to L.U. but want to organize with us at your college or high school, contact us at RSM.Sudbury@gmail.com or via Facebook! Likewise if you are interested in the RSM but cannot make it to meetings.

Location is wheelchair-accessible. Child-care available upon request.