A group of girls claimed the steps of City Hall this week to tell the stories of five black women who all died in police custody a year ago, during the month of July 2015.
It was the debut of the #SayHerName performance by Girl Be Heard, a political theater company for young women and girls based in Brooklyn with 170 female performers aged 12 to 21.
With live music and storytelling they animated the memories of the five women who were silenced: Sandra Bland, Joyce Curnell, Kindra Chapman, Ralkina Jones and Raynette Turner.
Holding white boards displaying the women’s portraits and biographies, the girls each performed a short emotional monologue depicting the lives of Bland, Curnell, Chapman, Jones and Turner, before and after their deaths. The group later joined hands to sing about the women’s places in the world as mothers, wives, daughters, coworkers and friends.
Three days after being arrested and charged for an improper turn signal, reportedly after a confrontation with a Texas police officer, Bland was found hanging in her jail cell.
Her death sparked widespread outrage at the trooper’s decision to arrest her in the first place and added fuel to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which marks its third anniversary this month. Since last July, at least 810 more people have lost their lives in jail.