|Background shot from the 15 Hoods photo shoot|
Immediately after the story broke, I remember feeling a sense of surprise and indignation that the Sanford Police let George Zimmerman go without much thought based on Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law." I felt that they, at least, ought to have asked the simple question, Which of these two actually stood his ground and confronted an attacker? Was it the older man who acted against the direct instructions of a police dispatcher or the young man who was being stalked by a "creep" in an SUV? At the very least, I thought the SPD should have referred the case to the State Attorney's Office, if for nothing else then just for CYA purposes.
That surprise, however, was nothing compared to the surprise I felt when the Special Prosecutor filed charges of second degree murder against Zimmerman in the absence of much supporting evidence and absolutely no witnesses or apparent motive. Being legally trained, I felt the better charge, the sustainable and provable charge would have been manslaughter. It also had the added benefit of comporting with the provable facts.
When the jury returned its verdict, I felt justice had not been served but that they had nonetheless rendered the legally correct decision. In computing, there's an axiom: GIGO, garbage in, garbage out. You can't blame the computer if you ask it the wrong question or ask the right question but in the wrong manner. Similarly, you can't really blame the jury if you've asked it the wrong question and given it no option but to return a bad answer.
I wasn't surprised, but like many, I was disappointed.
I was, however, very surprised at the steps the right-wing corporate media took to legitimate the shooting by demonizing an article of clothing, the hoodie. Most infamous in this regard is Geraldo Rivera who is quoted in The Huffington Post as saying that "hoodies reminded people of criminals like the Unabomber and thus put (the wearer) in danger".
I must confess, I have long since stopped watching or reading the right-wing corporate media. While Faux News is the worst offender, in my opinion, the so-called mainstream media are little more than stenographers to power. Still, using this article of clothing in order to legitimate the death of a young man who was doing little more than walking in a neighborhood that he had every right to be in was a new low, even by today's debased media standards. It's as if none of the so-called reporters have children who wear hoodies. Seriously, don't they know any seventeen-year-olds?
And so was born my idea of 15 Hoods.
15 Hoods is both an image and an installation. The image, consisting of 15 portraits of people wearing hoods, will be shown for the first time on September 13, 2013 at the Bakehouse Art Complex, in my Studio, 3U on the second floor. As an installation, it will also feature background images, outtakes and a separate set on the Vigil for Trayvon held at the Torch of Friendship in Miami.
If you find yourself in Miami that evening and do not have to attend Yom Kippur services, I hope you will consider attending.