Category Archives: Activism

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

These are the times that try men’s souls

On December 23, 1776 Thomas Paine wrote his most famous words and painfully appropriate words: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

The seventy-seven words that follow those eight are equally appropriate: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

The  reality of life is that trying times give us the opportunity to Rise up!

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

What is INDECLINE? Their webpage‘s answer is simple: INDECLINE is an American Activist Collective founded in 2001. It is comprised of graffiti writers, filmmakers, photographers and full-time rebels and activists. INDECLINE focuses on social, ecological and economical injustices carried out by American and International governments, corporations and law enforcement agencies. INDECLINE is NOT an anarchist group.

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE


What are some of INDECLINE’s projects? In August 2012, the group installed a billboard on Interstate 15 in Las Vegas with Dying for Work in black lettering on a white background and a dummy hanging from it by a noose; a companion billboard, also with a hanged man, read “Hope you’re happy Wall St.”

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

In April 2015, eight people spent six days creating the largest piece of illegal graffiti in the world: “This land was our land”, painted on a disused military runway in the Mojave Desert.  Click the YouTube link below to watch the project.

In October 2015, in response to Trump calling Mexicans “rapists”, the group spray-painted a mural depicting him with the slogan “¡Rape Trump!” on an old border wall on US territory approximately a mile from the Tijuana airport.

In March 2016, members of the group glued names of African-Americans killed by police over names on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and also glued the Indecline logo to the stars.

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

The project that garnered the most media attention was the Trump statue. Trump statues actually. August 18, 2016, life-sized statues of Trump appeared on sidewalks in Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

The combination clay/silicone sculptures were unflattering to say the least. The artist depicted a very overweight old person whose face appeared discomforted and had varicose veins, a very small penis, and no scrotum.

Joshua “Ginger” Monroe, the artist, entitled each as The Emperor Has No Balls. In some instances the city removed the statue, in others local merchants bought them.

The New York City Parks Department stated that it “stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.”

One of the statues was set on the roof of a warehouse overlooking the New Jersey entrance to the Holland Tunnel, where Indecline also placed an inverted US flag.

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE


There most recent project is entitled “Death Metals.” They  “re-purposed a gold ore processing facility on the Mojave National Preserve that was closed in 1994 and declared a Superfund site.”

There are many other videos of their work that can be viewed at the group’s site.

Activist Art Collective IИDECLIИE

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

The once-seen movie

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

On May 6, 1917 about 200 people watched a private showing Margaret Sanger’s film, Birth Control. Sanger had scheduled it to open publicly the next night, but New York officials banned it as obscene and it was never shown publicly.

Discomfort regarding sexually-related topics has long been part of American culture. A result of that attitude is that access to reproductive information and obstetric treatment for American women been limited socially as well as legally.

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Comstock Act

On March 3, 1873 the Comstock Act [named after Anthony Comstock, a U.S. postal inspector] [Case Western article] amended the Post Office Act . Within that act it was illegal to send any “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious” materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information. In addition to banning contraceptives, this act also banned the distribution of information on abortion for educational purposes.

Vestiges of the act endured as the law of the land into the 1990s. In 1971 Congress removed the language concerning contraception, and federal courts until Roe v Wade in 1973 ruled that it applied only to “unlawful” abortions. After Roe, laws criminalizing transportation of information about abortion remained on the books, and, although they have not been enforced, they have been expanded to ban distribution of abortion-related information on the Internet.  [Britannica article]

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger, 1879 – 1966, despite her eugenics statements, is in many ways the most important American in terms of reproductive heath care for American women.

Sanger watched her mother Anne die  at the age of 49 after she had gone through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) in 22 years.

In 1911 she and her husband moved to New York City where, as a visiting nurse, she saw the devastating effects of poverty on health, particularly women’s health.

As an aid to this heath issue, Sanger believed that women needed access to reproductive health information. Her activities in support of that belief were often illegal.

For example: in March 1914,  Sanger produced The Woman Rebel  [NYU atricle] which instructed women on times when it would be wise for them to avoid pregnancy, such as in the case of illness or poverty. She did not give any instructions regarding specific methods for contraception, but the New York City postmaster banned the journal under the Comstock Law category of “obscene, lewd, lascivious” matter.

Margaret Sanger Birth Control


Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Despite intense social and legal opposition, on October 16, 1916 Sanger and her sister Ethel Byrne [electric beanstalk article] opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in Brooklyn. The clinic served 448 people that first day. Ten days later the vice squad raided and shut down the clinic. The squad arrested Sanger and Byrne and confiscated all the condoms and diaphragms at the clinic.

On November 1, 1921  the American Birth Control League was created through a merger of the National Birth Control League and the Voluntary Parenthood League. Led by Sanger, the new league became the leading birth control advocacy group in the country. The American Birth Control League eventually became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. [Sanger did not like the term planned parenthood and continued to use the phrase “birth control.”

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Birth control pill

Margaret Sanger’s long term goal was a birth control pill, yet laws against any form of birth control continued to be enacted and upheld in court [February 1, 1943, in Tileston v. Ullman [Cornell article], the Supreme Court upheld a Connecticut law banning the use of drugs or instruments that prevented conception.]

In the early 1940s, researchers began to discover chemicals that could affect ovulation and on April 25, 1951,Margaret Sanger managed to secure a tiny grant for researcher Gregory Pincus from Planned Parenthood.  Pincus begins initial work on the use of hormones as a contraceptive.  Within a year his research supports the idea, but Planned Parenthood decided not to support further research because it was too risky. In 1953 Sanger was able to gain financial support for Pincus’s research. In 1955 human clinical trials proved that the “pill” was 100% effective.

It was still six years later before the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill. It first went on sale in December 1960. Despite continued social, legal, and religious opposition, by 1964 some four million women were using the drug.              

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Griswold v. Connecticut

On June 7, 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut (Oyez article), the Supreme Court struck down the one remaining state law prohibiting the use of contraceptives by married couples.

After an adult lifetime of fighting for women’s heath rights, Margaret Sanger died on September 6, 1966. [NYT obit]

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

Eugenics Aftermath

July 21, 2020: Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced that it would remove the name of Margaret Sanger, a founder of the national organization, from its Manhattan health clinic because of her “harmful connections to the eugenics movement.”

Sanger had long been lauded as a feminist icon and reproductive-rights pioneer, but her legacy also included supporting eugenics, a discredited belief in improving the human race through selective breeding, often targeted at poor people, those with disabilities, immigrants and people of color.

“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” Karen Seltzer, the chair of the New York affiliate’s board, said in a statement. [NYT story]

Margaret Sanger Birth Control

David Miller Draft Card Burner

David Miller Draft Card Burner

David Miller was not the first person to burn his draft card in protest of US involvement in the Vietnam War, but his case became the most publicized.

As more and more people protested the war, various ways of demonstrating that protest began. When burning a draft card was first being done, it was not illegal to do so.

David Miller Draft Card Burner

David Miller Draft Card Burner
Eugene Keyes Draft Card Burner

For example, Eugene Keyes burned his draft card on Christmas Eve 1963. He used to flame to light a peace candle.  The same day, Selective Service mailed Keyes a notice to report for his physical examination. ( NYT article)

On May 12, 1964 twelve student publicly burned their draft cards in New York City.

On May 5, 1965, forty men burned their draft cards at the University of California, Berkeley and a coffin was marched to the Berkeley Draft Board.

On August 31, 1965, President Johnson signed a law making the burning of draft cards a federal offense subject to a five-year prison sentence and $1000 fine. [The constitutionality of the federal law was upheld by the US Supreme Court in US v. O’Brien (May 27, 1968)]

On October 15, 1965, David Miller, a Catholic pacifist,  publicly burned his draft card. Three days later, the FBI arrested him. In its November 5 issue, Time magazine described the action of Miller and other draft card burners as “a post-adolescent craze.”

Miller responded to that description from the Onondaga County Penitentiary. [note the term Vietniks]

David Miller Draft Card Burner
Nov. 26, 1965, Vol. 86, No. 22
David Miller Draft Card Burner

Union Square burnings

David Miller Draft Card Burner
Photo by Neil Haworth, courtesy of War Resisters League
Draft-card burners in 1965 at the Union Square Pavilion, from left, Tom Cornell, Marc Edelman, Roy Lisker, David McReynolds and Jim Wilson. Dutch-born clergyman and activist A.J. Muste is at right in hat and topcoat.

Miller’s arrest did not stop the draft card burning. For example, on November 6, 1965 in Union Square, NYC, Thomas Cornell (teacher) Marc Edelman (cabinetmaker), Roy Lisker (novelist and teacher), and James Watson (on staff of Catholic Worker Pacifist Movement) burned their draft cards. (2015 Villager article)

On December 21, the four were indicted.

David Miller Draft Card Burner

David Miller

On February 10, 1966 a jury convicted David Miller of burning his draft card.

On March 15, Federal District Judge Harold R Tyler, Jr gave Miller a three-year suspended sentence and placed him on probation for two years.

Tyler also stipulated that:

  • Miller obtain a new draft card within two weeks
  • carry that draft card
  • obey all lawful orders of his Selective Service board
  • if called to serve, to submit to induction into the armed services

Miller said after, “I have no intention of obeying any of the judge’s directives even if I have to go to jail.”

Anti anti-Vietnam violence

As an example of how divisive the war in general and draft card burning became, on March 31, 1966, high school boys punched and kicked seven anti-Vietnam demonstrators on the steps of the South Boston District Court House after four of the protesters had burned their Selective Service cards. With shouts of “Kill them, shoot them,” about 50 to75 high school boys charged the steps and knocked the demonstrators to the ground as a crowd of 200 watched. David O’Brien, 19, was one of the card burners. On July 1, O’Brien was sentenced to a Federal Youth Correctional Center for an indefinite term.

David Miller Draft Card Burner

Judicial process

On October 13, 1966, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld Miller’s conviction. It held that Congress had the right to enact a law against destroying a draft card so long as it did not infringe on a constitutional right.

The NY Civil Liberties Union challenged the constitutionality of law prohibiting draft card burning on December 12, 1966. The appeal charged that the law was an unconstitutional abridgment of the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment and its purpose is to suppress dissent.

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held unconstitutional the amendment to the Selective Service Act that forbade the burning of draft cards on April 10, 1967.

On May 27, 1968, in United States v. O’Brien in a 7 – 1 opinion, the Supreme Court upheld the 1965 law that made it a crime to burn or otherwise destroy or mutilate a draft card. Chief Justice Warren, writing the majority opinion, rejected the lower court’s contention that draft card burning was “symbolic speech” and that Congress was forbidden by the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantees to outlaw it. (Oyez article)

After Miller lost in the U.S. Supreme Court, he served 22 months in federal prison in Pennsylvania from 1968 to 1970.

David Miller Draft Card Burner

Honky Tonk Communists

Miller later wrote I Didn’t Know God Made Honky-Tonk Communists.  Here is a link to an excerpt from the Reclaiming Quarterly site. 

David Miller Draft Card Burner