History in Posters 

Wednesday, Apr 24 2002

Casual Drug Users Ought To Be Taken Out and Beaten, 1991

Robbie Conal and Patrick Crowley, offset, Los Angeles

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This was the first poster to be made in response to the beating of Rodney King. Robbie Conal and Patrick Crowley had been collaborating for months on this photomontage designed to provoke a reaction to Police Chief Daryl Gates’ cavalier remark made in 1990, that “Casual drug users ought to be taken out and shot.” One hundred copies were about to be silk-screened on March 4, 1991, when the videotape showing the beating of Rodney King was broadcast. Conal describes his spontaneous altering of the original poster: “I rushed over to the silk-screen shop, picked up a blue grease crayon, scratched a line through SHOT and scrawled in BEATEN. We could barely keep up with the nightly news.” Ten days after producing the quickly altered silk-screens, 2,500 copies were offset and plastered around Los Angeles

Dis Arm, 1992 Robbie Conal, offset, Los Angeles

Dis Belief, 2000 Robbie Conal, offset, Los Angeles

The flaming police baton juxtaposes the burning of L.A. with the root cause of the uprising — police brutality. In 2000, Robbie uses the same burning baton motif but he morphs the LAPD badge into a skull and he doubles the burning batons to form crossbones. This image of poison and death refers to the Rampart Division’s police scandal and also to the Rampart CRASH unit’s self-made and -marketed logo bearing a smiling skull.

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