Femke Lippens

George Floyd’s Final Words Soar Above 5 American Cities

On Saturday last week, artist Jammie Holmes decided to spread a message you could not look past. The Texan artist revealed a piece of protest art that literally soared above five American cities where protests against police brutality towards the black community were being held.

Between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM on 30 May, an airplane flying a banner that stated “Please I can’t breathe” flew over Detroit, for all protestors to see. Similar banners, each with different messages were spotted in four other cities. In New York, a banner flew by that read, “They’re going to kill me”, in Miami it said “My stomach hurts”, in Dallas the banner stated “My neck hurts”, and in Los Angeles, the words “Everything hurts” could be read in the sky.

The messages refer to the last words of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed by the Minneapolis Police Department on 25 May. He was accused of using fake money to buy a pack of cigarettes. While not resisting arrest, three policemen held Floyd down, while one pushed his knee in the man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Despite Floyd’s pleas, the police didn’t stop, killing George Floyd. A video of his murder went viral and caused protests all over the world.

In red letters, the sentence "My Neck Hurts" soars above the city of Dallas. Photo by Mark LaBoyteaux.

Demand change

The areal demonstration was created by Jammie Holmes, an upcoming artist from Dallas. On his website, he explains his motive: “With this demonstration, I hope that people across the United States will use the outlets available to them to continue to demand change. The use of sky media to recount Floyd’s final words presents a contrast to the noise of digital media and employs a form of communication that is most often used by the privileged to announce sporting events, marriage proposals, or promote consumption. It is rarely used for political or social purposes — to exercise free speech — because it is an outlet unavailable to the poor and marginalized. I hope that people will be reminded of the power we can have to be heard and that coming together behind a unified message is key for real change.”

He ends his message by saying, “Like countless silenced and fearful young black men, I have been the victim of police misconduct on a number of occasions in my life. At some point, they will realize they can’t kill us all.”

Holmes created a powerful work of art that you get confronted with. Because of his genius artwork you can’t look past the painful reality of George Floyd’s pleas. They are written in the sky for everyone to see.

Help make a change

If you want to get educated, check out our article on How To Educate Yourself About Racism And White Privilege. You can also donate to different organizations. We sum up a few for you:

– The NAACP Legal Defence Fund: this is an organization fighting for racial equality;

– Black Visions Collective: this is a black-, trans-, and queer-led organization in affiliation with the Black Lives Matter Global Network;

– Black Lives Matter: this is an organization that has the mission statement to bring justice, freedom, and healing to black people across the globe;

– The Minnesota Freedom Fund: this organization pays jail bonds for those who can’t afford to fight discriminatory and coercive jailing (this fund has announced that they are being overwhelmed with donations and encourage donators to give money to other funds in need).

If you want to do even more, check out this Google Document with organizations to donate to, petitions to sign, and how to better educate yourself. 

"Everything Hurts." above the city of Los Angeles

Holmes in his studio surrounded by his previous work. Photo by Emery Davis.

Photo: courtesy of the artist and Library Street Collective

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