Friday, August 07, 2020

Say Their Names

Say Their Names
Oil on canvas, 36"x48"

"Say Their Names" is finally done.  This painting is of 13 blacks who were killed by police or vigilantes.  All were unarmed.  One of them was killed after this painting was already well under way.  This useless killing is the antithesis of what the United States is all about and it must stop. 

In the back row, left to right:

  • George Floyd, 36, was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin.  Chauvin and his partners were investigating a complaint that Floyd had passed a counterfeit $20 bill.  Chauvin had a previous bad history with Floyd dating back to their time when both worked as bouncers at a bar.  Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes, choking him to death.  
  • Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was jogging near his home in Georgia.  He was chased down by three white vigilantes and shot.  Local police refused to arrest them.  It wasn't until a video of the encounter was released to a news station and an international outcry forced the state to step in.  The vigilantes, Travis and Gregory McMichael, along with Roddie Bryan (who made the video) were arrested two and a half months after the event for felony murder and other charges.  
  • Rekia Boyd, 22, was killed by a Chicago police officer, Dante Servin, who was responding to a noise complaint in a park.  Rekia and three others were partying.  One of them pulled out a cell phone.  Servin claimed he thought it was a gun and he fired, striking Rekia in the head.  Servin was eventually charged with involuntary manslaughter but the case was dismissed by a judge.  Subsequently, Servin was forced out of the police department and the city paid $4.5M in damages to Rekia's family.
  • Sean Reed, 21, had been in the US Air Force before returning home to Indianapolis.  He was observed to be driving recklessly and led police on a vehicle and foot chase.  Reed was live-streaming the event on Facebook Live to a large audience.  Police tased him and then shot him 13 times.  One was heard on the livestream to say "It looks like a closed casket, homie."  The police officers were placed on administrative leave.
Middle row, left to right:
  • Eric Garner, 43, was approached by New York city police and accused of selling single cigarettes from a package without tax stamps.  The situation escalated and one officer, Daniel Pantaleo, put Garner in a prohibited choke hold.  Garner said "I can't breathe" 11 times before losing consciousness.  He lay on the sidewalk an additional seven minutes without medical attention while the officers waited for an ambulance.  Garner was declared dead at the hospital.  A grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo.  Eventually, public pressure forced the city to fire Pantaleo five years later and reach a $5.9M settlement with Garner's family. 
  • Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested by Baltimore police during a neighborhood counter-drug campaign for carrying a knife.  The knife was legal under Maryland law.  Gray was loaded into the back of a police van without being strapped in, then given a "rough ride".  When the ride ended, Gray was in a coma with his spinal cord 80% severed at the neck.  He died a week later.  Some of the officers were tried, none were found guilty of any charges, and many charges were dropped.
  • Walter Scott, 50, a US Coast Guard veteran, was stopped for a broken tail light by Michael Slager, a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer.  A confrontation ensued and Slagle tased Scott.  Scott ran from the scene and Slagle shot him in the back five times.  Slagle was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
  • Yvette Smith, 47, called 911 for help in de-escalating a confrontation between two men that involved a gun.  After police officers arrived, the situation calmed.  A police officer, Daniel Willis, called for Smith to come outside.  When she did, he shot her twice with his personal AR-15.  Willis was fired and charged with murder, but was acquitted.  The county settled a civil lawsuit for $1.2M.
Lower left:
  • Dontre Hamilton, 31, had a history of mental health issues.  He was sleeping in a Milwaukee park when he was approached twice by two police officers who found nothing wrong.  Shortly afterward, another police officer, Christopher Manney, approached Hamilton.  A scuffle ensued, Hamilton got control of Manney's baton, and Manney shot Hamilton 14 times.  Manney was fired but never charged.  A civil suit resulted in a $2.3M settlement.
  • Breonna Taylor, 26, was an Emergency Medical Technician in Louisville, Kentucky.  She was sleeping at home when police executed an unannounced, no-knock search warrant targeted against two men who knew Taylor but did not live there.  Taylor's boyfriend thought the police were intruders and fired once.  The officers fired over 20 times, hitting Taylor eight times.  One of the officers was fired and the police chief was fired after a black business owner was killed by police.  Other investigations are ongoing.
  • Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, was killed by Detroit police when they raided her home, looking for a murder suspect.  The officer, Joseph Weekley, was charged with involuntary manslaughter.  Two trials ended in mistrials and charges were dismissed before a third trial.  Weekley is still on duty.  A civil lawsuit is in progress.
Lower right: 
  • Elijah McClain, 23, was walking home from the store in Aurora, Colorado, when he was stopped by police.  They had received a call about a "suspicious person" and Elijah was wearing a ski mask.  Police wrestled him to the ground, handcuffed him, and put him into a chokehold.   Elijah repeatedly said that he couldn't breathe.  When paramedics arrived, they injected him with ketamine, a sedative.  He went into cardiac arrest and died three days later.  Three of the officers have been fired and one more has resigned.  No action has been taken against the paramedics.  
  • Tamir Rice, 12, was playing in a park in Cleveland with an Airsoft pistol, a highly accurate toy gun.  Police officers arrived and, thinking it was a real pistol, immediately shot him twice.  The officers faced no charges, although Cleveland later settled a civil lawsuit for $6M.

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