THE EVERYDAY STREETS, PARKS, AND SHOPS
WHERE POLICE HAVE TAKEN BLACK LIVES

Eight black men. Eight deaths at the hands of police. Photographer Kris Graves visits Ferguson, Staten Island, Baton Rouge, and other cities in search of insight and understanding.
The Queens-based photographer Kris Graves has spent the past three years photographing black men and women from all manner of backgrounds as they would want themselves to be pictured, in lighting and poses of their choosing, a series of portraits collected under the title The Testament Project. Here, over the course of eight days, he has traveled across the country in search of eight black, male subjects who will never sit in his studio—he has set out to document the physical spaces where, one by one, their lives ended.
The killings this September of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, and of Keith Scott in Charlotte, have again freshened this trauma, which barely ever subsides. It is terrifying to discover over and over just how easy it is for someone’s loved one to be laughing one moment and, in the next one, lying prone on the asphalt, blood pooling at the feet of uniformed men and women who will not administer first aid to stop it. A unique human life is reduced to the circumstances and history of a demography and geography...



ALTON STERLING, BATON ROUGE (12:35 A.M.)
The Triple S Mart is a popular store with cars in and out of the parking lot. It had just rained and they have the memorial covered with a tarp. Some people driving through town stop and say they had never noticed the memorial before. Two people approach from across the street and ask to introduce the artist of the mural. They say they are interested in museum and gallery exhibitions and grant funding for their projects. The truth is, these places are not always as dangerous as they seem. (Watch: Alton Sterling police shooting videos)



ERIC GARNER, STATEN ISLAND (3:30 P.M.)
Eric Garner died a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal. In the park across the street, men gamble at a game called “quarters.” Outside of the Bay Beauty Supply, there is a small Plexiglas memorial with flowers in it. The man selling incense and oils outside of the store says he made the memorial. He says he had been on that street hustling, like Garner, for more than 30 years. He says he knew Eric and saw him in the neighborhood the day before he died. (Watch: Original Eric Garner fatal arrest video)



WALTER SCOTT, CHARLESTON (9:30 A.M.)
Walter Scott was killed in an empty field in an unremarkable suburb north of Charleston. It is nerve-racking to walk into that field, because it is difficult to tell if it is private or public property. It feels terrible to walk in the same line of fire as Scott did in order to make the photographs. The photo shoot was not a long one. (Watch: Walter Scott Death: Video Shows Fatal North Charleston Police Shooting)

Source: Vanity Fair, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Photos by Kris Graves, Sept. 29, 2016.
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