I worked with the ACLU to create a series of illustrations depicting the 1935 Harlem Riots, as part of their series of films 100 Years of Racism in U.S. Policing.
"In 1935, Harlem was a neighborhood pushed to the brink by racist policing, income inequality and employment discrimination. When the owner of a local shop thought he saw a teen pocket a 10-cent penknife, he tackled the boy to the ground and a police officer nearby arrested him. A crowd had started to gather during the arrest, suspecting the officer was abusing the boy. Suspicion gave way to protests outside the store.
This was the beginning of the 1935 Harlem riots. They lasted two days. Three people were killed. 75 were arrested – mostly Black. Amid cries from activists, civil rights leaders and unions, New York's Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia set up a biracial commission to diagnose the problem and to prescribe a cure. This commission found that the upheaval was due, in large part, to "the nervous strain of years of unemployment and insecurity of black residents in Harlem. To this must be added the deep sense of wrong and discrimination against them in the school system and by the police."
Now, as then, we are experiencing the same events unfolding in living color: police brutality under the guise of protecting property. Racial disparities in housing, policing, employment, COVID-19 deaths. We have a chance to do it differently now. To make the changes we were too complacent to make in 1935. "
You can watch the rest of the films in the series here.