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Hands Up, Don’t Shoot! (The Fed Up/ Can't Take It Anymore Remix), Selected By Jennifer McCoy

About the exhibition

(Gallerist's note: Six years ago, yes, six years ago. That is how long ago we posted this online show organized by St Louis resident Jennifer McCoy. It was in response to events that happened in her city and were happening across the nation: the killing of unarmed Black men. More than a half-decade later, nothing has changed and more lives have been lost under the boots of and at the hands of brutal police officers. A number of works have sold since then and she's updated the show with a few new pieces that are relevant to this moment.

A portion of these sales will be donated, per Jennifer's request, to The Drip Community Coffee House, the first black female owned coffee shop in the Midwest, organizing for change.)

This the text that ran with the show six years ago.) Ten miles from my house in St. Louis, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson was shot dead by a white police officer. While many of the facts surrounding that shooting have yet to be released to the public, my community has been thrust into the national spotlight reserved only for those events that capture America's collective consciousness.

I can’t erase the picture of slain teen Michael Brown, left out on the street for hours following his death. I looked in horror at the images of opportunistic looters set fire to the now iconic Quik Trip convenience store on W. Florissant Ave. Horror turned to disbelief at the heavy-handed militaristic police response to the unrest and the subsequent arrest of several journalists. The protests turned much less violent under the rational leadership of Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson following the paranoid and insensitive response by the Ferguson Police Chief. Feeling compelled to lend my voice and to show solidarity, I marched with my children at the protests in Ferguson where protesters chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and “No justice, no peace”. Volunteers handed out water bottles and roses from the sidelines. My children and I held signs that black life matters as we marched in orderly rows.

The pieces I chose for this exhibit remind me of the events of that fateful night as well as the response of the community and the world following. St. Louis has been given a tremendous opportunity to open a much-needed dialogue about race, equality and justice in our segregated community. 

(And this is what Jennifer has to say now.) I cringe reading my 2014 white liberal pearl-clutching rhetoric after so much has happened and so little has changed. Mention of good apple cops, “the horror of opportunistic looters”, centering myself as an ally. I’m a seasoned activist now, having stood shoulder to shoulder with Black Lives facing militarized police, jail and the beauty of connection. My personal community isn’t the same as it was back then. The Friendships forged in fire on the streets of Ferguson since I curated Hands Up/Don’t Shoot have strengthened in the intervening years. I can’t feel their pain but I can witness, hold them up, and use my privilege as a sword. I can fuel action with my anger. And I’m very angry. Each new racial atrocity, whether captured on video or not, dims the image of Michael Brown’s body on the street. I don’t need photographic proof. Racial inequity is on full display. I’m tired of dialogue. I’m fed up. I’m bereft for my brothers and sisters and all of us.  I follow my own personal code of conduct when I’m on the streets. I also believe violence is a perfectly reasonable response to violence. I correctly shamed opportunistic looters back then but I didn’t identify the actual criminals. To wit, the depraved kleptocrats in government at all levels who hold black and brown people down on the pavement with their knee.

About the selector

Jennifer McCoy is an attorney/writer in St. Louis, MO and the parent of two neuro-typical daughters and a son on the spectrum. Your inappropriate friend blogs at www.hostilewit.com.