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Travon Free wears suit featuring names of victims of police brutality on Oscars red carpet

Free’s sneakers were emblazoned with names including George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Monday 26 April 2021 02:23 BST
Travon Free makes powerful statement about police brutality in Oscars speech
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Travon Free used his Oscars red carpet outfit to make a poignant statement about police brutality.

On Sunday, the comedian and actor arrived on the red carpet ahead of the awards show in a gold and black Dolce and Gabbana suit, which featured the names of individuals in the US who have been killed as a result of police brutality.

On the inside lining of Free’s jacket, it listed names such as Eric Garner, Duante Wright, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Tamir Rice, while his black Nike Air sneakers paid tribute to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others.

On the red carpet, the writer posed alongside his Two Distant Strangers co-director Martin Desmond Roe, who wore a similar suit.

Ahead of the powerful tribute, Free, who is nominated for the short-film Two Distant Strangers, which portrays a Black man being murdered by police, spoke with Vanity Fair about the importance of the film and how the idea came to him.

“Last summer we were all marching in protest, just about every day for a couple of weeks. Thinking about all the names - George and Breonna and all the other names you see on signs - I was thinking about how you internalise the emotions each time one of those stories happens,” he explained. “At least as a Black person, you cycle through being really angry, and then you’re sad, and then you feel a bit of hopelessness. Sometimes it starts up again before you can even finish talking about the last killing. 

“It just feels like the worst version ofGroundhog Day. I wanted to put that on the page and see if I could get people to feel what that feels like, even a little bit.”

Travon Free wears suit with the names of those killed as a result of police brutality (Getty Images)

As for criticism about whether he was “using Black trauma” for entertainment, Free said that he understands it can be difficult to watch, but that to ignore the reality would be “cinematic malpractice”.

“As Black people, we approach art and entertainment through the lens of our experiences, and there is so much that we go through in our everyday lives that I understand how it can be difficult to watch certain aspects of our film,” he said. “But to ignore the reality of how we got to this point would be cinematic malpractice.”

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