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OverPass Light Brigade

by C.M. DeSpears and Janice Christensen   The Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) was forged in the activist climate of the Wisconsin Uprising. Their messages shine over highways at night. The first of the illuminated signs was created to kick off the Recall Walker events starting in November, 2011. The Overpass Light Brigade is described as a collaborative public art project initiated by UWM professors Lane Hall and Lisa Moline. The signs are made of words or individual letters made up of battery-powered LED holiday lights mounted on corrugated plastic boards. Each letter is held by an individual on pedestrian overpasses above public highways. This grassroots statement project continued through the recall, then transformed as the group continued to offer new messages. Several times a month the call would go out on social media to gather the “holders of the light” at overpasses or events. The Overpass Light Brigade has made appearances in support of striking workers, boycotts, and public vigils for victims of shootings. Each appearance was documented with photos and videos that appeared on Facebook and websites like occupyriverwest.com. They have frequently been caught on video for such shows as the Rachel Maddow Show and The Ed Show on MSNBC. In a statement on the group’s website, overpasslightbrigade.org, they explain, “We believe in the power of communities coming together in physical space, as well as the importance of visibility for grassroots and progressive causes. We are a loose and inclusive affiliation of people dedicated to the power of peaceful and playful protest.” Good documentation has been an important part of the OLB’s visibility. This work has been done by a phalanx of live-streamers, social media denizens, and photographers from Madison and Milwaukee. The Art*Bar (a favorite post-bridge action watering hole) will host an exhibition, which will feature the work of OLB’s photographers. OLB Show January 4 – February 7 Art*Bar, 722 E Burleigh Opening Party Friday, January 4, 6:00PM Live music by Robert Hansen, Denny Rauen and friends (see ad page 19). Learn More: facebook.com/OverpassLightBrigade. overpasslightbrigade.org occupyriverwest.com