Dec 19, 2022
Dozens of artists, labor advocates, and climate campaigners answered a call from Climate Justice Arts on Sunday, arriving at Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco to paint the company's famed bird logo on the street outside along with pro-democracy messages.
"Sick of billionaires, wealthy corporations, and their politicians mismanaging, profiteering, and wrecking our communities and planet?" read the invitation to community members. "Join us speaking out against oligarchy by painting a guerrilla street mural directly in front of San Francisco Twitter headquarters."
The campaigners created a 15-by-50 foot mural designed by artist and organizer David Solnit, blocking a lane of traffic as they wrote, "No Free Speech or Democracy With Oligarchy" and "1% Wealth vs. 99% Survival."
\u201cSAN FRANCISCO--On Sunday morning December 18, dozens of community members blocked a lane of traffic to paint a giant guerrilla street mural directly in front of Twitter's San Francisco headquarters, right below their iconic two story sign. \nVideo: @allaboutlight\u201d— David Solnit (@David Solnit) 1671478302
The protest came six weeks after billionaire Tesla CEO--and self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist"--Elon Musk took over Twitter, ushering in an era during which he has already come under fire over his management and the policies he's introduced.
Last week Musk temporarily suspended the accounts of several journalists, claiming they had violated a policy banning users from sharing people's "live location." The journalists had reported on a Twitter account that tracked Musk's jet.
Twitter also announced on Sunday that users would be barred from tweeting links and usernames associated with other social media platforms.
\u201cWhen an oligarch says "free speech," he means "my power to shut you up." When an oligarch says "free speech absolutism," he means "my absolute power to shut you up."\u201d— Timothy Snyder (@Timothy Snyder) 1671483007
In the past Musk has called the climate emergency "the biggest threat that humanity faces," but critics have pointed out that many of his business ventures are making the crisis worse.
As Emily Atkin wrote at Heated last month, Musk's rocket and spacecraft company SpaceX has refused to disclose its emissions data, and he is currently leasing land in Texas to drill for natural gas. He has also announced publicly that he supports the Republican Party despite its climate denialism and refusal to back legislation that would help the U.S. to mitigate the climate crisis.
Musk's takeover of Twitter, which has sparked mass layoffs and resignations at the company including the firing of 15% of its content moderation team, has also led to the spread of climate disinformation on the platform, threatening what has become "an essential tool for studying, fighting, and responding in real-time to climate change," wrote Atkin.
"Ultimately," tweetedLos Angeles Times essayist Jamil Smith two days before campaigners assembled outside Twitter's headquarter, "this is all about preserving and metastasizing oligarchy. The shitposting, the conspiracy-mongering, banning journalists--all of it."
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