Local artists expressed feelings about police violence at the “Fists Up, Guns Down” benefit show, at the Five Myles Gallery on Aug. 19.
About a 100 guests came to see young artists of color, tell stories about police brutality through dance, poetry, music, and visual art — expressing their pain and rage about the extra-judicial killings of black people. Nicole Paultre Bell, the fiancée of Sean Bell — an unarmed husband — to be killed by police on his wedding day in 2006 – attended the event to share her experience 10 years later and praised the artists.
“Everyone in this room is a soldier. The one thing I have to say that pushes me forward is being in a room with a group of folks like you,” said Paultre Bell. “To know that there are soldiers out there who didn’t have to be affected by the movement, but that they felt the movement just because of who they are.”
Artists creatively spoke, sang, rapped, and danced their displeasure of police brutality, sharing the varying experiences that come as a result. Planners of the event invited Paultre Bell to the event to allow guests to hear her story, said organizers.
“I feel like people heard about the story, but they didn’t hear it from her personal point of view,” said Alia Pierre, artist and co-organizer of the event.
“Hearing it firsthand and seeing how strong she is really made them passionate about getting justice,” said Pierre.
Pierre said the message she wanted to convey with the event was achieved, and hopes that guests who attended left with the drive to pursue social justice.
“A lot of people said that they left there feeling like they needed to do something,” said Pierre. “We just wanted to give all proceeds to the Sean Bell family so that they can continue to have Sean Bell day, and any other day they plan to do to get justice.”
Concluding the event, artists and guests marched along Franklin Avenue, arriving at Eastern Parkway, before ending in front of the Brooklyn Museum, holding signs reading ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Fists up, guns down.’
All proceeds of the event went to Sean Bell’s family.