There were never any wanted signs outside the police academy or candlelight vigils in suburbia. The four police officers who shot and killed Amadou Diallo in his doorway 21 years ago were acquitted. One of them, Kenneth Boss, eventually got his gun back and earned a promotion.
That’s the reality at the center of “41 to ’99: A Photo Essay,” by photographer Steven Irby. It’s the first work to emerge from Ava DuVernay’s Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP), which the director started in June, weeks after seeing the video of George Floyd’s death. The $3 million program, which includes contributions from screenwriter-producer Ryan Murphy and the Ford Foundation, will fund 25 projects — including film, theater, photography, poetry, music, sculpture and dance — over the next two years through DuVernay’s Array Alliance nonprofit. Starting with Irby, the projects will appear once a month.
“I wanted to make sure that we launched with a case that was a deep wound that had never healed,” DuVernay said by phone recently during a break from preproduction for the Netflix series she’s creating about former superstar quarterback Colin Kaepernick.