The installation started with a phone call. The homie Michael Hastings-Black had known about UNARMED for years and the moment demanded action. His friend Trevor MacDermid has a business making large-scale prints. The three of us collaborated just a few weeks ago on MHB’s Hungry Vintage, which raises money for food banks. Why not link up together once again for Unarmed? Within a couple days the prints were made, and a day after that we met on Flatbush Avenue to install them. A few other friends joined – that’s Arjun’s son below. Pressing each person’s name onto the wall with our hands felt special. I hope they felt us reaching up to them.
Louisville Police used a “no-knock” warrant to enter Breonna Taylor’s home in search of two people who, it turns out, were already in police custody. Officers fired more than 20 times at Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, including the 8 bullets that killed Taylor. No drugs were found in the apartment. She would have turned 27 on June 5th.
Live-streams of protest footage here every night.
Believe me, the last thing I’d rather be doing right now is designing another jersey and posting it on the internet. I started this project in 2013. That’s a lot of tears spilled over Adobe Illustrator. A lot of marches and grief. And so I let a few go by – Walter Scott, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor – sounds so callous, doesn’t it? But isn’t that what we all do?
Three of the jerseys appeared in my film 72 Hours: a Brooklyn Love Story? – isn’t that enough?
Last year around this time I interviewed Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, Terence Crutcher’s twin sister, for a documentary I was directing about a separate topic related to race. The Terence Crutcher jersey was the last one I designed in this series, four years ago, on my birthday. Dr. Crutcher spoke powerfully in our interview about how she didn’t want her life to be about her brother’s killing, but how we must find the strength to raise our voices in the midst of pain.
And so my fingers quiver once again as I select fonts and Google details – did George Floyd have a nickname? Where should it appear on the jersey? Bullets were easier to make into a design motif – stars – but how does one represent a knee and the crushing weight of racism? With a glyph? A line weight?
TO PROTECT WITH COURAGE
TO SERVE WITH COMPASSION
That is the motto of the Minneapolis Police Department. If you didn’t know that, know this. George Floyd – Big Floyd – was UNARMED.