Austin, Texas August 20, 2012: Yesterday members of Occupy Austin and Peaceful Streets chalkupied the Texas State Capitol. In Austin (and nationwide), the simple act of writing with chalk on public sidewalks has faced persecution from law enforcement. On August 9, Occupy Austin joined Chalkupy the World, a nonviolent day of chalk writing declared by OccupyLA in solidarity with victims of a brutal police attack on chalkers by the Los Angeles Police Department in July. On August 9, Texas State Troopers arrested Audrey Steiner and Corey Williams while they chalked messages of free speech, healthcare and education on the sidewalk at 11th and Congress across the street from the Capitol.
On Sunday, August 19, about a dozen members of Occupy Austin, with support from the Peaceful Streets Project anti-police corruption group, returned to the Texas State Capitol to chalk together. The message they wrote on the pathways of the Capitol grounds: SPEECH IS FREE. EXPECT US. The message highlighted upcoming events which will be held during the Texas Legislature session.
Occupy Austin believes that the use of washable sidewalk chalk is constitutionally protected free speech, and several previous court rulings agree.
After her children witnessed the arrests on August 9, member Hillary Procknow, Ph.D. said, “People coming together, in public, to express themselves is something that makes the country better.”
Sarah Dickerson, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin said, “As someone deeply invested in art, both academically and professionally, I came to ‘chalkupy’ to ensure our freedom of speech and to promote human creativity. It’s a perfect, low-impact way for Occupy to spread its message because chalking is too delicate to cause any damage, and it washes away!”