Mixed media on canvas
36" x 18"
More than a decade before shocking video footage shared the Rodney King
beating with the world, the abuse suffered by Delbert Africa, at the hands
of Philadelphia Police, was caught on tape. People have been suffering
at the hands of "law enforcers" for far too long and still we
continue to lose young brothers to police brutality. As with The Ponce
Massacre painting, this shocking image is inspired by a photograph. At
times we artists can manipulate a scene to make it seem more harsh or
dramatic. Photography in that sense can be one of the least forgiving
methods of capturing an image, as it depicts reality in its raw form.
This painting is inspired by the infamous photo taken of the beating of
Delbert Africa during the police attack on the MOVE Headquaters in West
Philadelphia, August 8, 1978. The Christ-like image depicts Delbert surrendering
to the police, with his arms up in the air, yet they continue to strike
MOVE, an organization founded by John Africa, is a way of life--life
is also the name of a faith they practice that promotes respect and appreciation
for nature, earth and all things living. Members, in addition to taking
on the sur-name Africa--as a way to reject last names that were handed
out by slave masters--allow their hair to grow naturally, promote healthy
living and are fervent activists against all types of injustices. With
their headquarters in West Philly they served their local community, helping
seniors, the homeless and neighborhood pets. They also made fresh fruits
and vegetables available to neighbors to promote eating healthily. Known
for their fiery oratory--speaking out against injustice-- they quickly
became a target for the police.
Abuses from the police resulted in the miscarriages of several pregnant
MOVE woman and also in the death of 3-week old Life Africa whose mom was
thrown to the ground while the baby was still in her arms. As if these
incidents and accompanying images are not shocking enough, in May of 1985,
Philadelphia police used a helicopter (pictured in the upper portion of
the painting) to drop a bomb onto the roof of the MOVE house on Osage
Avenue. The resulting fire leveled an entire city block of 60 homes. Over
the years, many MOVE members have been killed during such attacks, many
of them children. For those who were able to survive, they still have
to suffer through the imprisonment of their brothers, sisters, mothers
and fathers---locked up for their political beliefs.
MOVE continues to live and struggle according to their beliefs and the
teachings of John Africa.
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-15, Yasmin Hernandez. Under no circumstances should any of the images
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permission from the artist.