Protesting police brutality at the University of Southern California

To kick off Constitution Week early, we activists with YAL @ the University of Southern California conducted anti-police violence activism on the busiest walkway at our school.

We drew body outlines in chalk to remember the victims of police brutality, labeling each outline with the victim’s name and the year they were assaulted or died. Most of the names we listed were from California, including the horrific and tragic slaying of Kelly Thomas, the infamous Rodney King incident, and the recent killing of the unarmed black teenager Mike Brown.

Some of the photos with commentary below (more here on Facebook, photos by Whitney Davis and Jayel Aheram):


In the activism kits YAL chapters receive from the national office are boxes of chalk. There are endless varieties of activism you can do with those boxes of chalk, including, as you can see, drawing body outlines on the ground to protest police violence. It’s a powerful tool in terms of aesthetics and how easy it is. It allows your members to do something productive and positive and creative and fun and most importantly, something performative.


The act of chalking on a public walkway invites an audience. It is activism made manifest. Additionally, it allows non-members to participate in this activism performance. You give them a piece of chalk and suddenly, they too are doing activism. I’ve actually never done activism with chalk before, but I am definitely a convert. It’s so fun and easy.



We even asked students to participate in the protest, like in this photograph captured by our college newspaper The Daily Trojan (photograph by Michelle Wolzinger):


We will follow up with this activism with an event on September 17 (during Constitution Week) called “Ferguson, Militarized Police, and the Power of the Camera” featuring Reason Magazine journalist Zach Weissmueller who covered the Mike Brown shooting protests in Ferguson.


End Police Brutality

More to come from YAL at the University of Southern California!

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