Along 24th Street between Folsom and Harrison Streets.

On 24th Street this morning, someone had slipped paper bags over the the parking meters between Folsom and Harrison with the photos of some of the 43 students disappeared in September in rural Mexico. “They took them alive,” was written in Spanish above each photo.

It was an installation-like piece of art and a reminder how art can be relevant and keep us in touch with what is going on elsewhere.

As Andrea Valencia wrote in Mission Local, “the 43 student teachers were disappeared and six people died after an encounter with police in Iguala, Guerrero. The students from the rural school of Ayotzinapa, were raising funds and got a hold of buses to attend a bigger march in Mexico City to protest education reform in the midst of the 46th commemoration of the student killings in Tlatelolco on October 2nd, 1968.”

Most recently, Mexican officials detained a Chilean student Laurence Maxwell at a November march in Mexico City protesting the disappearance of the students.

“Maxwell was taken to the Terrorist Crime Unit of the SEIDO (Deputy Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigation into Organized Crime) along with another 10 students that were also arrested at the march,” according to a piece written by Marc Hors in Mission Local. “Maxwell and the other students were charged with terrorism, attempted homicide, disorderly conduct and criminal association despite having no evidence of the alleged crimes.”

After protests here, in Chile and Mexico City, Maxwell was released in late November and returned home to Chile earlier this month.  BBC reports that the remains of at least one of the missing students has been identified. 

Lydia Chávez

I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born...

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11 Comments

    1. Its amazing how heartless people are and how clueless they are. Its about human tragedy and this is bringing attention to it. The low bar is the way people react to it and that’s a new low.

  1. This is a terrible tragedy that needs attention brought to it, but I agree, this isn’t art. It’s more of an awareness campaign. For some reason people in the mission and many parts of SF like to call almost everything “art” so as to make certain folks feel better about themselves for things they do. Doing this allows everyone to call themselves an artist and therefore somehow be morally superior to the rest of us. I made Christmas cookies and cut out different shapes instead of using the pre-cut cookie cutters. Does that make me an artist? Guess it depends on how I spread the frosting…

  2. It’s an awareness campagin until everyone parked in front of those meters gets parking tickets because the bags make the meters appear to be turned off.

  3. This is not a tragedy. This is state sponsored, state executed, state covered-up murder. Tragedy is the human condition. State sponsored murder/terror not. As for the question of “art”, the comments seem to come right out of the grumblings from the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art in NYC. Is it the political edge which makes this installation unworthy of the word, while Tracy Emin’s unmade bed sits in the Saatchi Art Gallery in London? http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/tracey_emin_my_bed.htm. Note: I think Tracy Emin is an artist, which makes her morally superior to absolutely no one.

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