To Protect & Serve? Five Decades of Posters Protesting Police Violence

18th Street Arts Center, 2019 MKFA Artist Project Grants Awardee, presents To Protect & Serve? Five Decades of Posters Protesting Police Violence in their Airport Gallery. Produced by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), 2016 MKFA Artist Project Grants Awardee, the exhibition features posters from Los Angeles to New York, from Mexico to Bangladesh, and from Europe to Africa.

To Protect & Serve? addresses policing as political repression, racial and gender profiling, the school to prison pipeline, immigration raids, militarization of law enforcement, and organizing resistance. 18th Street Arts Center will be producing online exhibition walkthroughs and a panel discussion in collaboration with CSPG.

The murder of a succession of unarmed African Americans at the hands of police has catapulted the issue of racist police violence and state repression into the national and international spotlight. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson; the choking death of Eric Garner while he repeatedly cried, “I can’t breathe;” the brutal “rough ride” death of Freddie Gray, whose voice box was crushed and spine nearly severed while in the custody of Baltimore Police; the senseless killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on a Cleveland playground; and the mysterious “suicide” of Sandra Bland in a Texas jailhouse, have exposed the pervasive brutality and inhumanity faced by people of color at the hands of police in the United States. Too frequently, other targets include immigrants, the LGBTQ community, the poor, homeless, mentally ill, and political activists.

The current struggles against police violence and state repression by organizations such as Hands Up United and Black Lives Matter are part of a long history of resistance, which is often documented in graphics produced by the activists, artists, and organizers engaged in these efforts. Posters tell of domestic and international efforts to challenge police brutality, and are one of the most effective tools for revealing these often-hidden or forgotten stories.

To Protect & Serve? Five Decades of Posters Protesting Police Violence
18th Street Arts Center (Airport Campus)
3026 Airport Ave, Santa Monica
August 24 – October 2, 2020

“To Protect & Serve?” is viewable by appointment only for groups of six or less Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., or by request at 18th Street Arts’ Airport Gallery (3026 Airport Ave., Santa Monica) through Oct. 2. Make an appointment via eventbrite.com here. Visit 18th Street Arts Center website for more info.  

Funding for the exhibition provided by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts; California Arts Council; City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs; with additional support from The Getty Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and SPARC, in collaboration with 18th Street Arts Center.

Read the a write-up on To Protect & Serve? Five Decades of Posters Protesting Police Violence in The Argonaut.