Behind the Blue Line: Stories of Police Brutality
About the Project
Behind the Blue Line is an interview and photography project that shares real stories of police brutality, abuse and misuse of power in Minnesota. The title refers to the “Thin Blue Line,” a symbol often used to represent law enforcement as the barrier between criminals and civilians, order and disorder. Behind the Blue Line is about stories from the other side of the blue line––the stories that are often untold, swept aside, ignored.
Listening to these stories can give us an intimate connection to another person’s humanity, and through this, a sense of the human impact of a problem that may at times seem abstract. It is from this sense of connection that understanding and action is born.
This project is a collaboration between four people:
- Annabelle Marcovici, photographer and journalist
- Den-Zell Gilliard, photographer
- Joe Davis, spoken word poet
- Erica S. Schultz, oral historian and writer.
Annabelle and Den-Zell photograph each participant somewhere meaningful to their story - usually at a place where they experienced police brutality or their home. Erica and Joe conduct interviews with participants and work with a transcriptionist to create a verbatim document of the interview, which they divide into chapters to aid in accessibility. Web developer Peter Vankoughnett helped create an interface where viewers have the opportunity to click on each participant’s portrait, listen to their story, and read all or part of their transcript.
A project of this scale takes a great deal of work. Just launching the website with the first four stories took over 300 hours of photography, interviews, transcription, web development, writing, research, graphic design, and more.
In order to continue doing this work, we need support. The money we raise will go towards covering the materials and time necessary to document a total of 20 stories of police brutality, abuse, and misuse of power.
Here is a breakdown of those costs:
- Design and maintenance of the project website: $1300
- Graphic design: $200
- Materials, including photographic film and printed materials: $1000
- Scanning and development of film: $1500
- Conducting and recording 20 interviews + project management: $4500
- Transcription for 20 interviews: $2000
- Photography and post-processing for 20 portraits + project management: $4500
Our Vision for the Project
We have big goals for this project. We want not only to affect the national dialogue about police brutality through a website that reaches thousands, but also to create a historically meaningful document of police violence in America today.
We know that there are far, far more than 20 stories worth telling, and we’d love to be able to continue adding more once we meet our goal. Every additional $750 we raise will give us the resources necessary to add another story to the website.
We’re also interested in pursuing other platforms for people to engage with the project, such as a book or an in-person exhibit.
But we can do none of this on our own. If you feel, like we do, that these stories are worth sharing, please contribute to help us reach (or even surpass!) our goal.