On October 27, 2006, when Mexican police opened fire on a crowd of protesters in the city of Oaxaca, killing three people, including American journalist Brad Roland Will, the world became aware of a social conflict that at its core is about the right to an education. Since 1981, teachers in the Mexican state have held annual strikes, but 2006 was the first time that violence erupted. That June, the governor ordered police to remove the protesting teachers and their supporters, using gas bombs and rubber bullets. Across the country, the media broadcasted the melee. Rallying around the teachers cause, the protests continued, resulting in the October deaths. Within hours of these shootings, graffiti calling the regions governor a murderer was sprayed throughout the city. The graffiti that has since overwhelmed the historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, constitutes the protest art of a community rising up to defend teachers, and our collective fundamental right as human beings to have access to education. Unlike in other cities where graffiti is recognized by many as a form of public art, in Oaxaca, graffiti became a way of achieving social justice through community organization, creating and facilitating an ongoing dialogue of rage, informing the public about meetings, and defying government officials. And because teachers in Mexico are primarily women, the graffiti is very much inspired by and made by women.
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