Art as Direct Action: we removed hate speech and left a mark of love

Yesterday I saw a swastika carved into the sidewalk. I live in the Haight Ashbury, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, and in recognition of this, my neighborhood recently painted hearts on the sidewalk along the main drag of the little retail section. It’s sweet, and appropriate since there are so many caring people who make the Haight feel connected and warm. I’ve been here eleven years now, and it feels like home in a way no other place has.

Naturally, when I saw a swastika carved into my neighborhood I wasn’t going to let it sit there, and the nice folks at the local hardware store gave me direction and a discount. I put out a call for people to join me in watching cement dry while we drank wine on the sidewalk in the cold. One friend even dropped off traffic cones. Thursday night, we took action.

Here are people smashing a swastika that was embedded in the pavement.

Does this look satisfying? It is very very satisfying.

We thought carefully about what message we should put into the new cement and drew from our favorite schmaltzy cannon to come up with this:

And left an explanation:

These are the initials of all of us who either laid cement, smoothed it out, created content, wrote the text, brought the traffic cones, wrote an explanation in chalk, and drank wine while we literally waited for cement to dry.

oh, and if you really need to see it? Here’s the stupid swastika that is now gone. If those fuckers come back we’ll be ready with a hammer again.

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