Dread Scott: America God Damn

A protester carries a U.S. flag upside down, a sign of distress, next to a burning building Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The multidisciplinary artist and social justice activist reflects on the recent protests in response to the killing of George Floyd and the history of racialised police violence in the US—and how change may finally be underway

The Art Newspaper, June 5, 2020

The people have learned to write with fire and it is a language understood around the world. Smoldering police stations. Flaming police cars. Blazing barricades. Smoke billowing around the White House.

A new day has dawned, and it is beautiful.

What has changed?

On 23 February, Ahmaud Arbery was hunted and lynched by an ex-cop, his son and a friend—all filmed by the killers—and the murderers were protected by the District Attorney. On 13 March, Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville Metro Police while in bed in her own apartment. Local prosecutors shielded her killers. On 25 May, George Floyd was lynched by four Minneapolis police. The cops saw nothing wrong with kneeling on a handcuffed man’s neck for nine minutes as he said “I can’t breathe” until he stopped breathing. They were in front of a crowd of onlookers and were being filmed. They knew they would not be punished for their crimes.

After all, Black people being murdered by police is a routine occurrence in America.

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