Students use art and music to discuss police violence

Remember them: Portraits showcasing (from top left to top right) Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Tanisha Anderson, Maurice Gordon, and Atatiana Jefferson are pinned onto Cole Bump’s ‘battle vest’ in Calgary on Feb. 11. Bump wears their faces and says their names to remember them. (Photo by Dami Fadipe-Olatunde/The Press)

The prevalence of police brutality and racial profiling in the United States has become a subject of much debate in the past few years.

It has sparked discussions about racism, justice reform and politics. After countless police shootings, people have had enough.

Under the banner of Black Lives Matter, people of colour took to the streets to protest the injustices that POC had to deal with under the threat of violence by police.

Protesting racially-based injustice is as old as the late 19th century, but the avenues and mediums one can use to demonstrate objection have increased. Where once collective action was mainly focused on marches, rallies and vigils, there has been an increased focus on the symbolic, aesthetic approach to address social issues.

Cole Bump, a student of Alberta University of the Arts, has been stirred by stories about the victims of police shootings in the past couple of years, and has made portraits that can be worn as patches when protesting.

Bump believes that the conversation needs to continue, and the victims cannot afford to be forgotten.

“I feel like people retain things through repetition,” said Bump. “We need to drastically change the way our police force and law enforcement works as a whole.”

Bump’s portraits showcase Breonna Taylor, Maurice Gordon, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark, Pierre Coriolan, Atatiana Jefferson, Tanisha Anderson, Elijah McClain, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and Philando Castle. They are also part of a larger project of his that was also made in support of equal rights for all.

His interest in the cause has been met with some issues. “I want to take my art to the streets, but at the same time, there is an issue that I am faced with, but I don’t know if it would be appropriate for me too, just due to the idea of aversive racism.” he said.

It’s not like I’m doing this for an image of any sort. I’m doing this because I care about the movement. – Cole Bump

Keynan Scott, a musician, was witness to many violations by law enforcement at a young age.

“In high school, I would witness people of colour being harassed more frequently than I was,” he says. “I’ve had to witness from an outside lens the brutality of RCMP pepper spraying of pipeline protesters, [the RCMP] stand by as white people burned boats in Nova Scotia, and watching police beat up Indigenous people on the street.”

Scott uses music to express bring up these topics and spread information.

“I use music because the artists that I listened to were able to give me words for situations I wasn’t able to explain. I wanted to be able to do that for someone else.” said Scott. “This gets people talking, and can move people into action.”

About Dami Fadipe 2 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Dami Fadipe worked as a writer for The Press in 2022.