Cops Shot the Kid, Nas
Drop Your Weapon © 2020 Shannon Woodloe
...it's just a cellphone.
Gun, Gun, Gun © 2020 Shannon Woodloe
Is it a gun or a cellphone? How can the two be mistaken? These are questions I asked myself after the recent police-involved shooting of a young Wilmington black male.
A research article titled “Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex” (Edwards et al., 2019) provides startling statistics on the risk black men face in being killed as a result of police violence. Researchers concluded one of the leading causes of death for young men of color in the United States was the result of police's use of deadly force. The researchers estimate that about 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police.
This project was created to explore the cases where deadly force was used on unarmed men whose only weapon was their cellphone. Had the victims' cellphone screens been illuminated, could they be mistaken for a gun? Should black males walk around with their phones illuminated to avoid being the 1 of 1,000? Should there be more accountability over how police officers exercise their right to use deadly force? I don't have the answers to those questions, I am just an artist shining a light on dark data.
This collection was first exhibited in a juried group show “Shine A Light” at CAMP Rehoboth, Rehoboth Beach, DE. Inspired by the events linked below (and countless others), because in America you're innocent until proven guilty, right?
• "Wilmington officer justified in shooting teen during carjacking, investigation finds” - November 17 2019
• (follow-up) “Charges dropped against unarmed teen shot by Wilmington police after officer's credibility questioned” - March 3, 2020
• (follow-up) “Prosecutors in shooting case questioned an officer's credibility. Now a lawsuit does too.” - February 22, 2021