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Nadine Seiler has a militant spirit, very “loud, she says”, but always “in the crowd”.
“I am the voice you hear and don’t know where it’s from,” Seiler said in an interview with NPR.
The resident of Waldorf, Md., Steps forward this time as one of many who preserve the artwork of protesters from the Black Lives Matter memorial fence that stood between the protesters and the White House . The posters bore the faces and names of blacks who died as a result of police violence.
As authorities removed the fence earlier this year, Seiler made it her mission to preserve every artifact she could – knowing that each sign represents a part of the nation’s history.
Seiler is working with fellow protester Karen Irwin from New York City to find new homes for what Seiler estimates to be over 700 items.
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She and others spent months surveying the fence and the artwork
Protesters came to Lafayette Square Park next to the White House following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and federal authorities quickly erected metal barricades to block various entrances to the site.
The fence was put up on June 4, 2020 and fell on January 30, 2021.
Seiler and others had spent long hours at the close of what is now called Black Lives Matter Plaza.
“Whether it’s raining, snowing or freezing, we lived near the fence,” says Seiler. “There was someone on that fence or a few yards from the fence, wherever the police pushed us.”
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As the group stood guard, the artwork on the memorial became a symbol of the movement, a place where people stopped and took photos, honoring what the fence and its panels stood for.
The drive to save the artwork was inspired on October 26, when protesters saw counter-protesters demolish the signs posted on the fence.
“Because people would come and vandalize this stuff, a part of me felt disrespectful,” Seiler says. “I made sure the stuff wasn’t going to be torn down.”
Items are in the process of being digitally archived
Seiler made it his mission to collect and save as many Signs as possible.
Thanks to her and others, the artwork is kept in a storage unit while waiting to be digitized by Baltimore’s archivists Enoch Pratt Free Library, a joint project with the DC Public Library.
“The collection is part of the archives of one of the most important social justice movements of our time,” says Jodi Hoover of the Enoch Pratt Library.
Hoover, who is the library’s digital asset manager, told NPR that preserving and documenting historical events in real time is not only extremely important, but also a rare opportunity.
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“By working collaboratively, we are able to preserve and provide access to this collection for years to come. I hope it will be useful now and in the future, ”she said.
The panels are shipped to Baltimore by Seiler in batches of 100 and nearly 300 panels have already been digitally archived.
But according to Seiler, there are still four lots to be scanned.
“I don’t expect this process to be completed until the end of 2021, given that it takes six to eight weeks to scan a batch,” she says.
Once the items have all been digitized, Seiler indicates that the process of donating the artwork will then begin.
Ideally, she says the organizers of the DC Chapter of Black Lives Matter would like the coins to remain in the hands of black organizations, but mentions that wherever coins may land, she hopes people will recognize their value and the messages that hold them back. underlying.
“I don’t know what it’s going to take, but whoever takes it has to agree to take care of them,” Seiler said.