We created this installation as a response to the silencing of those affected by injustice in the legal system. This installation creates a space for people to share an instance of injustice they have encountered or heard of. It is a space for reflection, awareness, and interconnection.
Upon entering the space, one will come across a sheet hanging above the steel table. It reads: “SHARE AN INSTANCE OF INJUSTICE WITH THE LEGAL SYSTEM THAT YOU HAVE ENCOUNTERED OR HEARD OF. PIN ON THE OPPOSITE WALL.”
Some pins appear barren in comparison to those holding a statement. They seem to manifest into headstones, waiting for their silenced stories to be revealed. Through the experience of reading the statements, we hope to illuminate the interconnectedness of people’s stories thus displaying how we are all affected by injustice and yet experience it in different ways. The purpose of our project is to create a space for these voices to be heard so as to spark conversation, inspire action, and create awareness regarding the vastness of this universal issue.
Beside the handmade paper in a metal holder are small booklets written by the National Lawyers Guild and shortened for the purpose of this project entitled “You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Law Enforcement Encounters” Imprinted on the holder states “TAKE ONE” and “SHARE KNOWLEDGE.” By educating and sharing information about one’s rights, people will have the tools to resist injustice and better navigate the system without being taken advantage of.
This installation was greatly inspired by “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander which we read in “Accused: The Gap Between Law and Justice,” A Tufts Experimental College Course. Alexander ends her book with a quote from James Baldwin’s Fire Next Time,
“We cannot be free until they are free.”
Until all are free, we are all affected by and imprisoned within an oppressive system. But we have the power to change that. We live in a time where walls must be broken down and we must see our neighbors as humans. We live in a time where the power must be given back to the people, a time where we must create awareness and spread knowledge about knowing your rights. A time when we can work towards ending the discrimination and dehumanization of criminals by educating people about the way an unjust legal system affects all of our lives. We can pursue the endeavor of creating a system that can truly provides justice for all.
Alexander quotes Martin Luther King Jr. in “The New Jim Crow,”
“One of the great tragedies of man’s long trek along the highway of history has been the limiting of neighborly concern to tribe, race, class or nation.”
We created this space to empower people to speak out about injustice. It both acts as a space for learning about one’s rights and further understanding that you have the right to remain silent and the power to break the silence.