A row of seven upright brass shell casings cast long shadows on a purple background.
Background and Inspiration
This photo is a response to the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 23, 2020. Blake, a black man, was shot seven times in the back in front of three of his children during an arrest. The incident comes at the end of a summer of protesting and civil unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd on May 26, 2020 while in police custody.
In the days following the shooting, there were protests and riots resulting in a state of emergency declaration on August 24. Confrontations between protesters and armed vigilantes on August 25 resulted in the shooting of three people with two killed. The white gunman was allowed to carry his rifle through the streets and past police. He was arrested the following day at his home.
These events occurred in the politically charged atmosphere following the Democratic National Convention and the start of the Republican National Convention. During these conventions, leaders from both parties claimed their respective parties represent the best interests of all Americans.
At a speech given at Stanford University on April 17, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked
In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? ... It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.
And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.
On April 4, 1968 while in Memphis, Tennessee supporting striking sanitation workers, King was assassinated.
All lives will matter when the lives of all black people matter. Where is the justice? Where is the equality? Where is the humanity? Which pillars of society had their backs?
Which pillars of society have your back?