George Floyd protests: From flightpaths to Bansky, here are some grand gestures for Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter protests, in the wake of Goerge Floyd’s death, have erupted across the US. Across the world, the movement has found itself being represented in unique and grand ways. Take, for instance, this pilot from Nova Scotia, Canada.
While flying in Nova Scotia on Thursday, June 4, Dimitri Neonakis took a very specific flight path, drawing an image of a raised fist, the symbol of the Black Lives Matter matter.
“For George,” he wrote on Facebook, alongside an image of the flight path. “Today I flew this 330 nautical mile flight pattern which took the shape of a movement symbol which I respect and support. While I was up there moving around free, the words of George Floyd ‘I can’t Breathe’ came to mind a few times, a stark contrast. I see a World of one race in multi-colors -- this is the World I see, and this is my message! End Racism.”
Neonakis speaking to CNN said, “I feel the need to speak out and my way is in the air. Even though no one is going to see it, it makes me feel good... I know it's for them, the people oppressed over the years.”
All the way on the other side of the world in war-torn Syria, artists Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun joined the global protest by painting a mural of George Floyd on June 1. They painted an eight-foot-high mural to show solidarity with the protesters in the US. The mural features Floyd’s face, and words: “I can’t breathe”.
Asmar, who runs art workshops for children in Idlib, Syria’s last rebel-held enclave, expressed his solidarity with the movement. He told Time magazine, “In those [after dictator Bashar al Assad attacked civilians with sarin gas in the suburb of Eastern Ghouta] hospitals, the victims were crying and they were asking to breathe. I saw George Floyd pleading with the officer to let him breathe and it reminded me of the way they were killed.”
Back at home in Washington DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned the mural, which spans two blocks of 16th Street. The mural painted on the street reads “Black Lives Matter” in giant yellow letters. Satellite images from Planet Labs also show the bright yellow message amid the gray DC buildings.
The sign has been installed at the site of St John’s Episcopal Church, where President Trump made a visit amid the protests earlier this week and did a photo op holding a Bible after officers in riot gear fired tear gas and charged demonstrators to make way for him.
“There’s a lot of anger. There’s a lot of distrust of police in the government. There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen and to have their humanity recognized,” Bowser said during a news conference on Friday, June 5. “And we had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city. That message is to the American people that black lives matter, black humanity matters, and we as a city raise that up.”
Banksy, the globally-famous anonymous England-based street artist and iconoclast paid a tribute to the Black Live Matter movement with his art. Alongside the post is a painting of a vigil candle burning the American flag, the graffiti artist wrote in an Instagram post: “At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It’s not their problem, it’s mine.”
Banksy further wrote, “People of color are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs. This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”
And while all this is happening in the physical world, the virtual world is not far behind. American video game developer Infinity Ward released an update for ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’. This update has a splash screen message in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Our community is hurting,” said Infinity Ward in a statement. “The systemic inequalities our community experiences are once again center stage. ‘Call of Duty’ and Infinity Ward stand for equality and inclusion. We stand against the racism and injustice our Black community endures. Until change happens and Black Lives Matter, we will never truly be the community we strive to be.” The Black Lives Matter message reportedly appears every time you launch Modern Warfare on a PS4. It also appears on loading screens and when switching to a separate mode like Warzone.