A New Gallery Exhibit About Don’t Shoot PDX Shows That While the Context of the Protests Has Changed, the Message Has Not

“We still have to say, ‘Stop killing us.’”

SAY HIS NAME: Demonstrators protest the police killing of Quanice Hayes in 2017. IMAGE: Don't Shoot PDX.

A lot has changed in the three years since Don't Shoot PDX last held an exhibition at Northwest Portland art gallery Holding Contemporary.

There's now a global pandemic coinciding with a worldwide uprising against police brutality. Don't Shoot recently filed suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the excessive force used by federal agents deployed to the Portland protests. And last week, its website was added to the Library of Congress' web archive.

What hasn't changed is the basic onus behind the exhibits.

"We still have to say, 'Stop killing us," says Tai Carpenter, the organization's president. "Things haven't changed in the fact that we still have to take to the streets with our children to protest police brutality. Black lives still don't matter in the city of Portland."

This Thursday marks the opening of Stop Killing Us, an installation curated by Don't Shoot PDX of protest banners, posters and art. State of Oregon, a documentary film about the sentencing of white supremacists who murdered 19-year-old Larnell Bruce in Gresham in 2016, will play on loop in the gallery.

The art spans years of demonstrations, from drawings created by children at this year's Juneteenth summer camp, to the "Justice for Quanice Hayes" banner that protesters carried through the streets in 2017, after Hayes, a 17-year-old Portlander, was killed by police.

But much of it could have come from any number of protests: "Fuck the Police" and "Say Her Name" signs to recent screen prints of Christopher Kalonji, a teenager killed by police in Oak Grove while experiencing a mental health crisis.

"That's why we're doing another installation, and keep this movement on everyone's minds and remind them it's not a moment," says Carpenter. "It's not about whether you go downtown or not. It's about every single day. These streets are covered in blood, and people need to wake and realize that."

SEE IT: Stop Killing Us shows at Holding Contemporary, 916 NW Flanders St., holdingcontemporary.com. Noon–5 pm Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 6-29. Two guests allowed inside at a time, masks required.

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