The Canvas Car Project, Driving towards Justice
The first car for the, No Time To Break Project, which actually was the inspiration behind the name of this movement, is a tribute car to Philando Castile.
I was ready to surrender the farfetched idea of this project to the annals of my heart, acutely aware of my lack of means to bring it to fruition. But the idea would not go silently, and instead I found myself sharing the idea with one of my clients, who joined the rebellion of this car project, snatching it from the shelves of my heart and escorting it to the forefront of my mind, leading active pursuit to how to make this a reality.
Relentless research began, first, with trying to find the perfect canvas- the same car that Philando Castile had his ideas, dreams, and hopes laid to a final and reckless rest. I prayed and poured over articles and video footage, to find the police car dash camera footage, as haunting as it is, to be what would ultimately reveal that my perfect canvas, the car, was a 1997, white, Oldsmobile 88'. The month long search would ultimately lead 3 of us, including my son, a young black male, on a 13hr drive to from Philadelphia to Ohio and, and back to Philadelphia, where I would sit in the driver’s seat to a car almost identical to that which Philando had been killed in.
Yet his death would not have victory, My vision was to create a piece of art that would not be the end of his story, but instead extend his purpose. I would create a piece of art, celebrating the life of Philando Castile, bringing attention to his unjust death, and highlight the ever so urgent and wholly felt by many communities of color in the US, especially the Black community, on the issue of the misuse of Police Force (Police Brutality). This project is taking a very specific look at the alarming ratio of deaths among minorities following a routine traffic stop or subsequent event of a traffic stop (or car related offense).
Brake light "going out" ends in death... in a matter of seconds. In the video.. "Code 3, get the baby girl out the back" ... comes only after shots had already been fired in her direction, in such close proximity to the "baby girl" and now forever close to her memory. The start of those few seconds seemed so calm and direct. I can't hear any reason for alarm. Yet, such a fatal decision made in such short time. But maybe, the decision wasn't made within those 8 seconds. maybe the decision to fear for your life when pulling over a black man for a bulb that blew out in his tail light, or a black woman who didn't signal switching lanes, or the fear of the teenage black boy leaving a party or playing with a toy gun in the park, maybe the idea to fear and shoot to kill was decided before a car is ever pulled over, before Philando Castile ever uttered his name.
This car is only the first of what I believe will be a three car collection. The vision God gave to me was one that expanded the stories and honored three people senselessly murdered in it, two at the hands of trigger-quick police officers and one in what we are calling a road-rage incident. There’s the car driven by Bianca Roberson who was victim of a road rage incident, and the car driven by Jordan Edwards brother at the time of his death.
The three cars will be painted as a memorial to them as well as a reminder to us, that we cannot progress, move forward, drive into our destinies in a society where injustice dictates the traffic patterns- who is detoured, has to pay tolls, and seems to always get every red light denying them the green light to simply go after their dreams and to live them. .