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Say Their Names: Locals Memorialize Black Lives Around Silver Lake Reservoir


Maria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosMaria DemopoulosGina AcunaGina AcunaGina AcunaGina AcunaGina AcunaGina AcunaGina AcunaGina AcunaGina AcunaGina AcunaGina AcunaGina Acuna

Last Monday, as the nation exploded in reaction to George Floyd’s murder and the initial failure to charge the offending officers, Eli Caplan, 24, heard the call of the Black Lives Matter movement. He wanted to put Mr. Floyd’s name up on the barbed wire fence that runs along the 2.2 mile Silver Lake Reservoir down the street from his childhood home.

His brother Simon, 20, procured dark blue fabric to spell out the letters of Floyd’s name. His mother shared their idea with some neighbors, and together, they wove “George Floyd” into the fence. On Wednesday, the family decided to put up more names — Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Tamar Rice, Michael Brown, Sean Reed, Eric Garner, Bettie Jones, Ahmaud Arbury.

Catalyzed by a deep desire to pay tribute to lives lost, as well as the groundswell of courageous actions being met with even more senseless brutality across the country, the Caplan brothers and their friend Micah Woods, 27, suddenly had a bigger vision. Woods posted on his socials and the Caplans reached out to even more friends, and soon people were asking if they could Venmo money for fabric. By Friday, the group, now much bigger, added more names — Tony McDade, Antwon Rose, Sharmel Edwards, Yvette Smith, Laquan McDonald, Michael Noel, De’Von Bailey, Antoine D. Hunter, Tommy Yancy — and by the end of the day, the names spanned nearly all the way around the lake.

Silver Lake is a mostly white, affluent neighborhood, albeit a progressive one. Eli and his family felt it was important to display the names of black Americans killed in state sanctioned violence in such a community. They chose the reservoir for the project because of its visibility, knowing it attracts people from all over the city. The family says the experience has been heart-shattering and mournful, as they research the tragic stories behind each name. At the same time, there is a feeling of light and healing, as the project grows to a large collective of strangers and friends all wanting to address the injustice of these ongoing killings. “The goal is not to make the Silver Lake Reservoir beautiful,” Eli explains. “The goal is to honor and say the names of unarmed black people who were killed at the hands of police officers.”

The Caplan Family, Woods and all of their friends invite people to walk the reservoir with their friends and family, reading and saying the names of these individuals out loud and learning more about their stories.

All photos here by Maria Demopoulos and  Gina Acuna. 

 

LA Weekly