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To Protect & Serve? Five Decades of Posters Protesting Police Violence

August 24, 2020 - October 2, 2020

18th Street Arts Center presents To Protect & Serve? Five Decades of Posters Protesting Police Violence in their Airport Gallery. Produced by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), the exhibition features posters from Los Angeles to New York, from Mexico to Bangladesh, and from Europe to Africa.

To Protect & Serve? addresses policing as political repression, racial and gender profiling, the school to prison pipeline, immigration raids, militarization of law enforcement, and organizing resistance. 18th Street Arts Center will be producing online exhibition walkthroughs and a panel discussion in collaboration with CSPG.

The murder of a succession of unarmed African Americans at the hands of police has catapulted the issue of racist police violence and state repression into the national and international spotlight. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson; the choking death of Eric Garner while he repeatedly cried, “I can’t breathe;” the brutal “rough ride” death of Freddie Gray, whose voice box was crushed and spine nearly severed while in the custody of Baltimore Police; the senseless killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on a Cleveland playground; and the mysterious “suicide” of Sandra Bland in a Texas jailhouse, have exposed the pervasive brutality and inhumanity faced by people of color at the hands of police in the United States. Too frequently, other targets include immigrants, the LGBTQ community, the poor, homeless, mentally ill, and political activists.

The current struggles against police violence and state repression by organizations such as Hands Up United and Black Lives Matter are part of a long history of resistance, which is often documented in graphics produced by the activists, artists, and organizers engaged in these efforts. Posters tell of domestic and international efforts to challenge police brutality, and are one of the most effective tools for revealing these often-hidden or forgotten stories.

To Protect & Serve? Five Decades of Posters Protesting Police Violence
18th Street Arts Center’s Airport Gallery

3026 Airport Ave, Santa Monica
August 24 – October 2, 2020

This exhibition is open by appointment only. Each time slot can accommodate groups of up to six individuals. All visitors are expected to check in at the front door, wear masks, and maintain a distance of 6 feet at all times from others who are not part of the same family group. Please make an appointment at bit.ly/toprotectandserve.

The catalogue and full exhibition guide is available here in English and here in Spanish.



This exhibition is three years old, but the stories of abuse the posters tell are repeated daily on the streets of this country.  Please help us update this exhibition by submitting posters on George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and any of the others killed by police while going about their daily lives. All submissions will become part of the permanent collection of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics and will be accessible to curators, organizers, researchers, students, and the general public.

Please mail posters to:
Center for the Study of Political Graphics

3916 Sepulveda Blvd. Suite 103
Culver City, CA 90230

Please email digital files to:

To Protect & Serve? Five Decades of Posters Protesting Police Violence is funded by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts; California Arts Council; City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs; with additional support from The Getty Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and SPARC, in collaboration with 18th Street Arts Center.

It is curated by CSPG’s Community Curatorial Committee, and produced by Carol Wells and Sherry Frumkin, in collaboration with 18th Street Arts Center.


Carol A. Wells is the Founder/Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Carol Wells earned her B.A. in History and M.A. in Art History at UCLA. She taught the history of art and architecture for thirteen years at California State University, Fullerton. Wells has published numerous articles and catalogue essays on political poster art and has produced over 100 political poster exhibitions since 1981.

Sherry Frumkin is an LA based curator. Former Director at the Santa Monica Art Studios and Sherry Frumkin Gallery, Frumkin has organized over 200 exhibitions with local and international artists. Throughout many years and thanks to her gallery, many artists have been acquired by the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, the Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Long Beach Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Laguna Art Museum among other public collections, and by numerous private collectors. Her gallery participated in international art fairs and introduced challenging work by artists from Japan, China, Canada and the former Yugoslavia to Los Angeles.

CSPG’s exhibitions are curated by a Community Curatorial Committee comprised of activists, artists, and experts in the field. This show included the following team members: Erika Barbosa, Cynthia Anderson-Barker, Joanne Berlin, Jorge Gonzalez, Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, Kwazi Nkrumah, R. Samual Paz, and Gary Phillips.

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