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What’s Up With the Anti-Trump Street Art All Over the Mission?

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The stickers fit together like a yin-yang drawing — but instead of philosophical symbols, they advertise a pair of simple phrases that ridicule the 45th president’s cerebrum. The first is a statement of opinion that many people would take as an undisputed fact: “Trump Dumber Than W.” The second is a Socratic imploring: “Think About It.”

Since Donald Trump’s unexpected election in November and throughout his chaotic first half-year as president, San Francisco and the greater Bay Area have become an epicenter of the anti-Trump street-art movement. It is a movement, with de facto members around the world who place stickers, drawings, chalk scribblings, and other items on walls, poles, sidewalks and other surfaces to voice their anger and discontent. They’re also wearing their art, including hats on their heads as they march in rallies and buttons on their shirts as they commute to work.

“It feels like it’s the right thing to do,” says Tommy Tweedie, an anti-Trump Democrat who runs a sticker company in Campbell and who has given away thousands of anti-Trump stickers, some of which are plastered on poles by San Francisco’s Ferry Building and along Market Street.

One of Tweedie’s stickers reads, “If he tries to grab my pussy, I’ll cut his tiny little hands off.” Another says, “Lock Him Up! Lock Him Up!”

In Campbell, Tweedie says he plays a kind of cat-and-mouse game with at least one Trump supporter. Stickers take just a few seconds to peel and paste onto a surface — and they’re cheap, so multiple pastings are cost-efficient.

“There’s a guy who put a big ‘Trump-Pence Make America Great Again’ sticker on a corner, and I have a sticker that says, ‘Is an asshole,’ ” Tweedie tells SF Weekly by phone. “So I always stick the sticker over it, so it just says, ‘Trump is an asshole.’ Of course, they’ll come by and take off the ‘asshole’ part of it. And then I’ll come back the next day — and I have more stickers than this guy has — and I just keep on sticking them.”

(Photo by Jonathan Curiel)

On a recent Sunday afternoon, a man was hawking anti-Trump buttons at the corner of Sloat Boulevard and 19th Avenue, waiting for thousands of people to emerge from that afternoon’s Stern Grove concert. The man was in his late 70s or even 80s — old enough to have experienced America’s vicious racism of the late 1950s, when activists went to the Deep South and risked their lives to change things, and old enough to have lived through Richard Nixon’s nightmare presidency, when protesters filled the streets across the United States. As the hawker set up his table, he told SF Weekly, “There’s a huge desire to express a desire against Trump, and this is the way.”

The button hawker didn’t want to give his name. He said Trump supporters have asked for it at other venues where he’s sold buttons — and that even in the liberal Bay Area, anti-Trump activists face harassment. At least two Bay Area-based white supremacists were involved in the Charlottesville, Va., white-nationalist rally that resulted in the murder of a counter-demonstrator.

Tweedie puts his own stickers on the van that he drives around the Bay Area, but he says, “A lot of people are probably afraid to put stickers on just because somebody’s going to come by and cook their tires or key their car. For me, it’s worth it. I get more thumbs up than middle fingers up.”

For people who don’t want to personally advocate their feelings about Trump, anonymous street art is a viable option. In the Haight-Ashbury, someone scribbled this on a sidewalk corner: “Impeach the government.” Some of the most effective anti-Trump street art contain his face in some kind of artistic rendition, as happened at multiple rallies around the United States last November. In New York, protesters carried signs that showed Trump with a Hitler mustache and a Nazi symbol on his forehead, along with the words “Pro rape.” In Los Angeles, demonstrators made effigies of Trump that distorted his face into a repulsive Frankensteinian monster.

(Photo by Jonathan Curiel)

Of course, San Francisco is not the only city where anti-Trump street art is prominent. But there’s no let-up here, as new stickers appear with regularity. New buttons appear on people’s lapels. Even when political rallies are quiet, there is visible sentiment against the president, his policies, and everything he stands for. In the weeks after Trump’s election, a homeless man in San Francisco’s Civic Center was pushing his shopping cart with all his worldly possessions. In the front of the cart was a black-and-white poster of the president-elect with these two words: “Fuck Trump.” Everywhere the man wheeled his cart, people saw the improvised art. Its message and artistic layout were simple, direct, and entirely impactful. Some of the best art is like that, whether displayed in an august museum that charges admission or on a public street where the viewing is entirely free.

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Jonathan Curiel

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Jonathan Curiel
Tags: button hawkers Charlottesville Donald Trump protest art resistance street art Tommy Tweedie Trump Dumber Than W.

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