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ARTIST JUDY BACA AND BALDWIN PARK RESIDENTS DEFEND FIRST AMENDMENT FREEDOMS AGAINST TERRORIST TACTICS

NEWSLETTER SPRING 2005

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Judy Baca writes:

“SPARC’s mural in three movements, ‘You are my other me,’ (pictured above) is truly a case of art begetting art. Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped conceive, construct, and perform the mural, which premiered on Saturday at the ‘Reconquest of Justice, Peace, Liberty and Love.’

“- The first of three movements, ‘Speaking Back,’ ridicules the anti-humanitarian ideas of SOS with quotes submitted from supporters to our website.

“- In the second movement, ‘Turn Our Back,’ we illustrate America turning its’ back on hate-groups and hate-speech, with the decisive show of disrespect coming from silhouettes labeled according to the models’ ancestry: Native-American, Mexican-Irish-American, Cuban-American, etc.

“- Finally, in the third movement, ‘Reconciliation,’ we offer Spanish and English translations of a Mayan concept-word, ‘in lak ech’ that means ‘you are my other me,’ and ‘tu éres mi otro yo,’ to signify that whether we like it or not, we all share a common humanity, and that even the most vitriolic hatred doesn’t change our connection to others who think differently.”

On June 25, 2005, over 600 peaceful demonstrators sang, danced, chanted and beat drums to urge tolerance and support our client artist Judith F. Baca, Founder and Artistic Director of SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center). The City of Baldwin Park presented Ms. Baca with a proclamation to keep the Danzas Indigenas monument intact and declared the matter closed. Sixty members of the anti-immigrant hate group Save Our State — Sink Our State would be more appropriate — staged another unsuccessful protest against the Danzas Indigenas public art monument in Baldwin Park and Ms. Baca. On May 14, 2005, twelve to twenty outside agitators from the hate group traveled to Baldwin Park where they encountered over 1,000 supporters of the monument. The hate group has charged that the twelve-year old monument to multicultural understanding is racially charged, seditious and anti-American.

Ms. Baca facilitated a community process with members of the Baldwin Park community that ultimately created the public art project to reflect the dreams, past, and future of Baldwin Park.

The hate group using terrorist tactics threatens to take action if two statements are not removed. The group’s diatribe against one quote reflects its own ignorance: “it was better before they came.” The group berates that statement because it laments the presence of whites in America, but in fact the quote is from a non-Hispanic white resident who was speaking about Mexican immigrants arriving after World War II, according to Ms. Baca. The ambiguity of the statement as it appears on the monument is the point: about which they is the anonymous voice speaking?

On the front of the monument representing the past is a quote from the Chicana author Gloria Andzuldua, “this land was Mexican once, was Indian always, and is, and will be again.” The quote reflects the fact the monument is one mile from Mission San Gabriel, and descendents of the native Tongva/Gabrielinos still live in the region, making the quote particularly relevant to the increasing indigenous population. The reference is to the land being Native American, and does not advocate a return to Mexico, contrary to the ignorant ravings of the hate group, which dismisses the author as a “dead lesbian.”

Baldwin Park Councilman Bill Van Cleave stated that “there is no race problem in Baldwin Park,” but that the Ventura County based hate group “was bringing one.” The group “threatened my life and told me they were going to bury me in brown soil,” according to Councilman Van Cleave, the only non-Hispanic White on the council. All members of the council have received death threats. The hate group’s web site is filled with violent images of a man shooting at the viewer, people used as target practice, and people beaten and bloodied.

The City Project will continue to represent Ms. Baca and SPARC so that artists, public officials, and community members will not be left to face death threats and attacks on their well being because of a work of public art that was created in a public process, and approved by an art committee in the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.