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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bare-Breasted Women Stop Traffic to Protest Police Killings of Black Women

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 12:13 PM

click to enlarge JULIA CARRIE WONG
  • Julia Carrie Wong

About a dozen topless protesters stopped traffic on Market Street this morning, as part of a National Day of Action for Black Women and Girls. Using the hashtag #SayHerName, protesters sought to draw attention to black women victims of police violence, such as Rekia Boyd and Kayla Moore

"You don't know the women's names in the same way you know Michael Brown and Tamir Rice," said Kharyshi Wiginton, 40, who took part in the protest. While the founders of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and many of the leaders of the movement are women, much of the national conversation around police brutality has focused on black men, including Eric Garner and Freddie Grey. 

"I'm specifically out here so my young people know that they can unapologetically love their bodies," she added. 

click to enlarge JULIA CARRIE WONG
  • Julia Carrie Wong
The protesters blocked the intersection at Market and Beale Streets starting around 8:30 AM, and planned to stay for about an hour. They carried signs bearing the names of black women who have been killed by police and painted designs and messages on their faces and breasts. Paint on one woman's chest read, "I fight for survival."  Another's said, "For the murdered, missing, silenced, abused, exploited, unseen." 

Chinyere Tutashinda, one of the protesters, explained the significance of protesting topless. Calling herself and her comrades "warrior women," she said, "We are drawing a connection to West African women who have traditionally bared their breasts to say, 'Enough is enough.'"

Tutashinda also criticized popular culture's relationship with black femininity, saying, "Black women's bodies are commodified and used to sell products. They want part of us but not all of us." 

Additional #SayHerName protests will be held in other parts of the Bay Area today. At 4:00 PM, protesters will gather at the Home Depot in Emeryville where Yuvette Henderson was killed by police in February. At 7:00 PM, another rally is planned at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland. 

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About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.

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