‘8 Shots in the Back’: Artist Adrian Franks honors Walter Scott


The video capturing the brutal killing of Walter Scott has riveted the nation. Although this is not the first instance of an unarmed Black man being killed by a police officer, it is one of the first cases in which there is a real sense of hope that justice may be served. The recent release of dashcam video of the routine traffic stop in conjunction with the officer involved, Michael Slager, being fired and arrested for gunning down Scott, may finally prove that Black lives matter.

Artist Adrian Franks, known for his protest art, shares his inspiration with rolling out for his latest work, “8 Shots In the Back,” a tribute to Scott.

The Rest In Power series continues why?

The Rest In Power series continues because the violence against communities of color is an issue. Black-on-Black, police brutality, violence against women, and teen violence are serious issues that need constant awareness.

What is significant about the number eight?

The eight represent the number of times Walter Scott was shot at, with five bullets striking him.

When you saw the video, how did you feel being a young Black man from the South?

It’s a constant reminder that Black men have to beware of their surroundings, regardless of where you are from.

How does this seem like a lynching and what does it signal to people of color?

I don’t know if you could classify this incident as a lynching because it was just Mr. Scott and the officer. Lynchings typically involved a group of individuals torching either one or groups of people. This is more like murder out of fear.

Does this type of killing showcase hidden hate in these communities?

I think so. More than anything it shows that society has a deep-rooted fear of Black men, which we as a people have fed into that same fear of ourselves. How many times have you crossed the street when you see a large group of young Black males? I’m sure you have done it before because we have been conditioned to react in that manner.

Why pick an image of a uniform?

Mr. Scott served his country as a serviceman in the Coast Guard. I wanted to honor him in his uniform since it was a portrait to begin with. Portraits naturally revere people in a very simple way because in most cases it shows the natural disposition of that person. The colors are the swatches that the Coast Guard use. Ironically, the officer who killed Mr. Scott was a former Coast Guardsmen himself

Where are we in race relations in art?

We are still in our infancy when it comes to race relations in art because it can be very polarizing.

What does this piece ask the viewer to ask themselves?

What are you doing to help reduce the violence?

View more works from Franks’ “Rest In Power” series in the gallery.

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