AGAINST RACISM COVER IMAGES: Gino Canella
Which Side Are You On?
Activists with Black Lives Matter 5280 (BLM5280) marched through Denver, Colorado, on Martin Luther King Day 2016. By protesting under the mantra “#ReclaimMLK,” BLM5280 disrupted a sanitized collective memory of King and revealed the radical, antagonistic politics at the root of King’s writings. Amy Brown, co-founder of BLM5280, spoke to a crowd of hundreds in Civic Center Plaza about the structural racism plaguing Black communities. “When you reclaim this day, and when you reclaim the truth of this day, it’s scary as hell,” she said.
Brown demanded “resources, not retribution,” and protesters chanted along with her and organizers, calls to “demilitarize the police” and “affordable housing now !” As an allied filmmaker and community-engaged researcher, I made photographs and videos of activists marching, raising fists in solidarity, and singing “Which Side Are You On?” to the beat of a marching band. These images mirrored the movement — they were created with care-full love and in solidarity with the fight for Black liberation. Documenting BLM5280, through media, standing alongside allied community organizers and fighting with them on issues of police violence, affordable housing, and healthcare, depicted BLM5280 in solidarity with all oppressed people. Sharing visual stories on social media of the march amplified BLM5280’s mission, and connected its efforts in Denver to the broader Movement for Black Lives. By centering Black women in these stories, I framed the movement through the voices of those leading the struggle.