#LastWords remembers black men murdered by police

    As the protests in Ferguson continue to demand justice for Michael Brown, one artist’s response to the murder has resonated across social media.
    Artist Shirin Barghi has created a series of simple graphics that remember the last words of black men murdered by police. (Shirin Barghi)

    As the protests in Ferguson continue to demand justice for Michael Brown, one artist’s response to the murder has resonated across social media. Journalist and artist Shirin Barghi created a series of images that a feature simple objects, such as a bird, a pair of glasses or a flower, along with the last words of unarmed black men who have been killed by police over the last few years. She has shared these images over the last week on her Twitter, Facebook, and Imgur pages with the hashtag #LastWords. Among the 11 men memorialized in these images are Sean Bell, Amadou Diallou, Oscar Grant, and the most recent victims, Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

    Shirin explained that she drew inspiration from her own experience with police abuse in her home country. “I experienced police brutality in my native Iran and the struggle to confront that violence here resonated with me,” she said.

    While simple, these graphics serve to humanize black victims of police murder and to peel away justifications or excuses that the media has focused on with Michael Brown. They serve as a reminder that each of these victims were people, that they were frightened and that their deaths are all unjustified. Because #LastWords keeps the humanity of these victims intact, viewers can begin to understand the history of police violence against young black men through these graphics and how systemic inequality remains ingrained in the United States.

    Shirin stated that she created these graphics not only to remember victims of police brutality but also to show how such abuse is becoming widespread and perhaps normalized. “I created these images to raise awareness about racist police violence in America,” she said.

    Recent Stories

    • Feature

    The Little Big Union joins the growing movement to transform fast food

    April 22, 2019

    Using “solidarity union” tactics, workers at a popular Portland burger chain have launched a union to fight for their basic labor rights.

      How Sudan’s protesters upped the ante and forced al-Bashir from power

      April 17, 2019

      The Sudanese people took to the streets for more than a struggling economy. They were calling for freedom, peace, justice and the downfall of the regime.

      • Analysis

      Progressive coalition boycotts ‘woke-washing’ of San Francisco event space

      April 13, 2019

      Activists are confronting a San Francisco event space with a self-proclaimed “social justice” mission over gentrification and its owner’s outspoken Zionism.