feature: afropunk festival goers talk ferguson, police brutality & more

September 5, 2014

Nearly 30,000 fans flocked daily to the make-shift concert grounds of Commodore Barry Park in Green Point, Brooklyn for the 10th annual AFROPUNK Festival in a celebration of multicultural otherness, but recent events cast a shadow over the weekend.
Within the six weeks preceding the concert, the lives of three black males were taken by police force. The untimely deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Ezell Stewart caused uproar, most notably in Ferguson, Missouri where for two weeks citizens clashed with local law enforcement equipped with tear gas, military-grade tanks and riot gear.
I asked some festival goers to share their thoughts about these events.

Words & Photos by Melissa Bunni Elian, AFROPUNK Contributor *

Reminders of the racial violence creeped up randomly amidst the music and fashion. Artists from Lonely Horse to D’Angelo dedicated songs to victims of police brutality. Small pictures of black men with their hands up in surrender hung from fences and light posts. Non-profit organizations on Activism Row recruited people and called the crowds to action. Some passers-by posed with “I am Mike Brown” posters for Instagram. Unfortunately, there were several names to choose from.

It’s been nearly a month since Mike Brown’s last breath forced the nation to face its deteriorating race relations. The statements featured in this piece are a few opinions on the news coming from the frontline of America’s racial tension in Ferguson, Missouri by residents from the cultural frontier at AFROPUNK.

* Melissa Bunni Elian is a Journalist and a Documentary Photographer based in Brooklyn