Black Lives Matter
Photography by Bill Hackwell
Text edited by Cosimo Calabrese
These images were taken in cities in California but could easily be from any region of the United States. They offer a glimpse into what can only be described as an epidemic of state violence that targets primarily Black and Latino communities
While the U.S. likes to boast about being a beacon of democracy the reality is that institutionalized racism, which can be traced back to slavery, is just as much a reality as it was back then. Police departments have now been federally co ordinated and armed with the latest military hardware that has turned oppressed communities into militarized battle zones that particularly profiles young black men who are being murdered with impunity.
This documentation focuses on the pain and suffering of the families and the resistance reflected in community actions. Until recently police forces were able to cover up the murders but that began to change in 1992 in Los Angeles when a black motorist named Rodney King was viscously beaten by a gang of police and a civilian caught it all on a video camera. The footage of the beating sparked a full scale rebellion in that city that raged for days. While these images include a number of incidences of police murders the most dramatic one is the case of Oscar Grant a young black father who was celebrating New Year’s Eve 2009 on a train in Oakland when they were pulled off the train at the Fruitvale Station and Grant was handcuffed and thrown face down on the platform and then shot in the back by the police kneeling on him. All of it was captured on passenger cell phones. The police officer Johannes Mehserle served less than a year in jail for the murder which is unusual that he served any time because in the vast majority of police shootings there is no punishment at all. (links to the case below)
The advent of cell phone cameras has changed everything because now just about everyone has the potential of becoming a documentarian as events unfold. As the resolution and lens clarity improves with each new generation of phone it makes it virtually impossible for authorities to sweep the evidence under the rug.
Bill Hackwell - billhackwell.com
Camera: Nikon D7200
Lens: Nikkor 18-200mm e 12-24mm