Most of you have seen the picture of Maikoiyo Alley Barnes, taken in April 2005. You may have heard the audio from the police dashboard camera; the unmistakable proof of an innocent man beaten by members of our own Seattle Police Department.
Look at the picture. Ask yourself honestly what you see- what comes to mind? Who do you think he is? What do you think he is like?
If we’re honest with ourselves, and don’t personally know this man- any number of stereotypes or potential scenarios push forth in an effort to explain or rationalize what it is we are seeing; a man used as a punching and kicking bag.
Maybe this guy in the picture is shady. Maybe he’s mouthy and ‘got himself’ into trouble. Maybe he had Bruce Lee-like skills and they had to do that to him in the process of getting him under control.
I’ll tell you what I didn’t see when I looked at the pictures. I didn’t see a father. I didn’t see a teacher or profoundly insightful maker (he doesn’t prefer the word ‘artist’). Honestly, I don’t know if I saw anything at all.
Mainstream media being what it was, we really didn’t get many facts or details about what happened that night. For the general public, the police audio/video was a flash fire that came to light two years after the actual incident. We were outraged by the pictures. He became, literally, a poster boy.
Then it faded away.
Then another flash fire when it was announced he’d settled a case for six figures- again, he was touted in some fashion; it was a ‘victory’ for the ‘cause’. Yeah, words to use loosely.
While his image was being used by others, we didn’t ever actually hear from him. We didn’t see him on local or national television giving interviews, there was nothing in the papers. It’s a rarity, to be sure.
Five years later I received an invitation to a multimedia exhibit entitled To Serve and Protect by Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes and Friends. Here's the whole post.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Sable Verity: "The Interview: Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes" (with audio)
Sable Verity, with audio (Click here and scroll down for exclusive radio interview):