Chalk art depicting President Obama with words "Dear Leader" below
Every week, the Fresh Juice Party - FJP - hosts a community “Chalkupy” event at the Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland. The group focuses on a theme and is comprised of artists and activists including Occupy Oakland organizers and a range of community members.
They have been holding the weekly chalking event “with the exception of the rainy season” since January, said FJP cofounder, Pratibha Gautam. This week’s theme, according to the organizers, will depict an aerial photo of the plaza when it was filled with tents belonging to Oakland occupiers.
The event will begin at 2 p.m. Friday and is open to the public.
FJP’s recent art projects include one called the “Homeless Wishlist” with a series of large, empty “sticky notes” where people can chalk their wishes. Another piece depicted the Obama campaign symbol with predator drone planes flying out from the icon. The caption read “Game of Drones.” The photos can be seen on FJP's Facebook page.
One of their most recognized works of art was of a person holding a flag that read “Occupy “ with the caption “General Strike” above it. The New York Times featured a photo of the art in its recent article on Occupy Oakland.
Just last week, an FJP caravan traveled from Oakland to Los Angeles to support chalkers there. The 8 a.m. event reportedly drew lots of attention including helicopters and police.
“About 10-15 minutes after we started, cop car (two cops), next cop car, next one, next one, till there were probably like eight to 10 cops there,” co-founder Craig Casey, said. “There were like 20 of us” he added, referring to fellow chalk artists.
A few arrests were made at the Los Angeles event, including FJP co-founder, Naomi Pitcairn, who was charged with vandalism. No violence was reported at the event.
The group has had a relatively high profile, since its debut in San Francisco a year and a half ago at a fundraiser hosted by President Obama; at that time members made international headlines by singing a song protesting the detention of the alleged whistleblower, Bradley Manning. The action garnered a response from the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart who aired the footage and then chided them on their ability to hold a tune.
“Sorry about my singing,” said Pitcairn when Oakland Local asked about the event.
“We all apologize for that,” Casey chimed in.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was asked in an interview if he thought the U.S. would catch him. He referred to protests and FJP’s intervention saying, “That spectrum of support is what is keeping us strong, is what is keeping these forces at bay.”
If You Go
Fresh Juice Party’s community Chalkupy event
When: 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17
Where: Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall