Diana Cervantes is a bilingual independent visual journalist previously based in New Mexico, recently relocated to Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating in 2018 she has freelanced throughout New Mexico for local and national publications. Cervantes...
Covering:USA & Canada
Skills:Research, Adobe Photoshop, Photo Editing, Print Making, Photojournalism, Film Processing, Film Photography
May 31 marked the 4th day of protest in NYC as tensions remain high over the killing of George Floyd by police and police brutality towards the Black Community. Many protests occurred throughout NYC, with protests at Bryant Park and Brooklyn turning violent. SoHo was also looted late in the evening. Jemeil (last name withheld to respect his request), stands in front of riot police at Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn with an American flag that reads with George Floyd’s last words, “I CAN’T BREATHE.” Jemeil has suffered police brutality both and out of jail, and although his friends tell him he may be killed at protests he keeps going to attempt to create a better world for his daughter.
Joshua (last name withheld to respect his request) holds his 8 month old daughter Luna as they stop by in support and solidarity of the protest as the march down Broadway. Joshua wanted to show his daughter what they are fighting for and hopes for a change so she can grow up in a safer world.
The following images chronicle the candlelight vigil held June 1st, at Astoria Park in remembrance and to honor the life of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police on May 25. People who attended lit candles, left flowers and words on the Astoria Park War Memorial. Many protests continue throughout the country and NYC has been given a curfew along with other cities across the nation. President Trump is considering using military action against protestors and multiple fires were set near the White House yesterday evening. Protests and candlelight vigils continue to be announced throughout NYC as unrest continues.
On June 4, a “Bomba for Black Lives: A Boricua & Latinx Celebration of our African Roots” event was hosted by Bombayo, siemPResente, Mijente and many other organizations to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protest and uprisings happening throughout NYC. The dance celebration and act of solidarity was hosted at Union Square.
Bomba is a traditional dancing style of Puerto Rico with origins rooted in the islands history of slavery. Bombayo called the audience to dance as they felt compelled to because “Bomba is something you feel,” as stated by the Bombayo band.
Earlier in the day a memorial for George Floyd was hosted at Cadman Plaza Park to honor Floyd’s life. His brother Terrence Floyd and some of the Floyd family members and friends were also in attendance. Mayor Bill de Blasio also made it to the memorial but was not greeted warmly by New Yorkers, who screamed “vote him out!” and “fuck you!” As he made his way to the stage. Many New Yorkers are outraged at his leadership in regards to NYPD and the department’s treatment of individuals throughout the protests and Black lives. Many NYPD officers have been captured on video abusing their power as citizens attempt to get home during the hours of the curfew.
A community memorial was held Saturday June 7, to remember the life of Malik Graves who was fatally shot and killed by NYPD on the evening of June 2 in Crown Heights.
Graves was accused of shooting another man who was treated and is recovering. Officers say they pleaded with Graves for a minute before 10 officers opened fired killing him, saying the instance was caught on body cam footage.
The community and family disagree saying they don’t believe the police account and are requesting the body cam footage, as protests continue nationwide in regards to the treatment of Black individuals at the hands of police.
The question of police brutality, abuse of power and killings of Black and POC continues, as many within these communities ask themselves whether White individuals would be met with the same brute force. Mother of Graves said in an interview with news12 Brooklyn that She would have preferred for NYPD to have injured her son instead of killing him. ______ These images chronicle the community of Kingsborough Houses in Crown Heights as they not only commemorate the life of Graves but the lives of loved ones lost to police brutality. The memorial was hosted by The Party for Socialism and Liberation in support of BLM. During the memorial service I observed Quintin Fitz and his 17-month-old daughter Kassidy Fitz as they played while NYPD cars drove around the neighborhood. This is the norm for neighborhoods of color. The Black community will continue to live under hyper vigilance and live in danger of police brutality until major change can occur within systems. These communities and families like the Fitz’s will be long affected after all the protest signs are tucked away. Now is not the time to ask the oppressive broken system for their “side” it’s about showing the resilience of these families that continue to fight and create a sense of normalcy in their everyday lives where they are so often targets. It’s about hearing their stories and holding those in power accountable and as journalists it’s our duty to continue documenting after the cameras stop rolling.
“They tried to bury you, George. They didn’t know you were the seed that would start a Revolution. Rest in Power, brother.” -Unsigned.
Words like these were among the many posters, artwork, words, flowers, candles left by people on a tribute wall for George Floyd outside of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem on June 10.
The day before on June 9, George Floyd was laid to rest in Houston, Texas.
Protests that began in Minneapolis and spread throughout the nation have created change in NYC.
On Tuesday, New York Law Makers passed a bill to make police records more transparent. The repealing of the law known as section 50-a previously prevented the public from knowing officers disciplinary record. Governor Cuomo will be signing it into law this week.
June 19, at Grand Army Plaza a drum circle jamboree was held in celebration for Juneteenth led by drum group MNFST. All drummers in the community were encouraged to bring their instruments of buckets, drums and sticks. This was one of hundreds of celebrations for Juneteenth that occurred throughout NYC. MNFST shared that they perform in the subway and often face harassment from law enforcement.
On June 20, The East Coast Chapter of Black Surfing Association hosted a paddle out in support of Black Lives Matter at Rockaway beach. Surfers from all over the community joined the paddle out with chants of “Black Lives Matter!” rising over the sound of the ocean waves. Yesterday marked 24 days of continuous protests throughout NYC since the death of George Floyd.
Violinists from all over the community gathered at Washington Square Park to honor the life of Elijah McClain with a violin vigil. McClain was a victim of police brutality & died Aug. 30, 2019.
The vigil ended with violinists playing Ave Maria and a ten minute moment of silence. McClain was 23 years old at the time of his death and was known to play the violin for shelter kittens.
Violinist Sean Bennett organized and led the violin vigil and also read words from McClain’s mother. Multiple violin vigils were held across the country with the vigil in Aurora, CO ending with individuals being pepper sprayed.
“According to The Cut, McClain's sister says he sometimes wore a ski/runner's mask because he was anemic and would often get cold. One night last August, he was walking home from the convenience store with his mask on when the police approached him, responding to a call about "a suspicious man" in the area. What ensued was "a struggle" according to police, which was only partially caught on body camera, as all of the officers' body cameras allegedly fell off during the incident. McClain was held in a carotid hold, a controversial restraint technique banned in some cities for its potential danger, and was also given a shot of ketamine by paramedics. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital and died there three days later, after having been declared brain dead.” (upworthy.com, “Elijah McClain played violin for lonely kittens. His last words to police are devastating).
On May 29, 2020 several protests broke out throughout New York City in regards to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police. The officer who killed Mr. Floyd was charged with third degree murder as protests continue throughout the nation. May 29, marked the second day of protest in NYC.