photography by annie appel
film-based work *
Black Lives Matter, Portraits of Protest
17 June 2020
Three weeks ago one more murder at the hands of
police in the U.S. – this time in Minnesota.This time
the victim, George Floyd, an unarmed black man,
was killed. A young woman who was passing by
recorded the nearly nine minutes of sadistic brutality
by the group of murderous cops.
The entire country has erupted in on-going protests,
which have been echoed in cities across the globe.
Mostly peaceful protests are often being met by
aggressive police who are now armed with newly
acquired arsenals of weapons that have been re-
purposed from the U.S. military. From tanks to
sonic sounds that cause confusion, often leaving
permanent brain damage. Three billion dollars
allocated to the police for the city of Los Angeles,
while only one million is set aside for education and
As with protests globally throughout history, bands
of criminals, with no affiliation to the peaceful
protesters, looted stores in other cities, which led to
nearly every store in the two-block downtown
district in my sleepy small port town of San Pedro,
California to boarding up their windows. As though
protesters might break into restaurants to steal the
potatoes? Once again, ignorance about the impacts
of systemic racism being amplified by sensationalist
media coverage focusing on random vandalism and
looting in search of higher ratings and increased
profits for the networks.
Protest exists to create dialogues.
Protest asks questions and demands change.
*Each activist was sent a digital file of their portrait,
and proceeds from this work are being donated to
the Chicago Honor Initiative, a new non-profit
organization I volunteer with dedicated to creating
lasting peace on the streets of Chicago.
On May 25th 2020, George Floyd was murdered by a police
officer pressing his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8
minutes and 46 seconds.
Kneel quietly and reflect for this same length of time. It feels
like an eternity.
Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in
jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are
persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment
- become the center of the universe.
– Elie Wiesel
Dismantle the power of police unions. – Martin
Create a safe environment for people to express their feelings.
Do anything but stay silent. – Cameron
'Black Lives Matter' simply refers to the notion that there's a specific vulnerability for African
Americans that needs to be addressed. It's not meant to suggest that other lives don't matter.
It's to suggest that other folks aren't experiencing this particular vulnerability.
– Barack Obama
I think we must provide healthy human services for anyone
who needs it. – Julia (98 year-old retired nurse)
The heart of justice is truth telling, seeing ourselves and the world the way it is rather than
the way we want it to be. More than ever before we, as a society, need to renew a
commitment to truth telling.– bell hooks
Equal rights. No one should have fear when they get pulled
over. – Julia
Equality. The system needs to change. – Stella
Fix the system. Just because they’re cops doesn’t mean they
should get away with murder. – Tammy
Charge the officer who killed Floyd with first-degree
murder. The other officers should be charged with
accessory to murder or murder. – Jessica
We can't have a racist free society with a racist driven
leader. – Michael
Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled
by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control
the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be
led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love
– Octavia Butler
I believe in the possibilities of democracy, but democracy needs to be emancipated from
capitalism. As long as we inhabit a capitalist democracy, a future of racial equality, gender
equality, economic equality will elude us.
– Angela Davis
People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who
insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself
into a monster.
– James Baldwin
Shut down the police - defund them entirely, and re-distribute
that money to low income communities.
We need to be able to guarantee the safety of all artists and activists for human rights so that it
no longer takes extraordinary courage to call for a better world - so that every person with the
ability to imagine peace, equality, progress, and justice can express their dreams and hopes
without fear.– Deeyah Khan
We need to get everyone to not be shy and to use their voice.
Wake up together so the right thing can happen. – JoJo
I have been gravely disapppointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the
regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is...
the white moderate who is more devoted to ”order” than to justice; who prefers a negative
peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.
(written in his Letter From Birmingham Jail)
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
We need to design a solution that’s meant for us to succeed. –
Defund the police 25% - we need new leadership, with
diversity and integrity. – Kre
I’m here for George Floyd. – Shawn
Death lawsuits should come out of police pensions. – Dom
I can’t breath. No color lines. – Diane
I don’t know. How can we fix it? – Rashia
People keep saying, 'We need to have a conversation about race.' This is the conversation. I
want to see a cop shoot a white unarmed teenager in the back. And I want to see a white man
convicted for raping a black woman. Then when you ask me, 'Is it over?', I will say yes.
– Toni Morison
To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail
– Rosa Parks
For all those that are seemingly uneffected to be affected. –
Demilitarization, defunding and developing strategies for
integration into communities of the police. – Kevin
Put less money into the police and more money into the
community. – Lisa
We need to get deep and honest with ourselves, and on the
collective level as well, and to not be scared of heavy
discusions. – Angela
Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel
None of us alone can save the nation or the world. But each of us can make a positive
difference if we commit ourselves to do so.
– Cornel West
Prosecution of all killer cops. – Irania
End racism. – Celina
End racism through education. – Brenda
Have more minority people of color in politics. – Carla
Reform of the criminal justice system. – Perla