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December 6, 1995. Three white supremacist soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg set off this night with beer and weapons for one of the poorest areas of Fayetteville's downtown, where they felt sure of finding african-americans on the street. One of the soldiers sought initiation into the neo-Nazi fellowship of those who have murdered an African-American or homosexual person, and another had the spiderweb tattoo signifying that he had already done so. The area they went to for their victims houses blacks and a few whites, all in dilapidated housing, on streets still unpaved at the end of the century, and within spitting distance of the modern, extensive county courthouse building. Encountering Michael James and Jackie Burden walking along the road, the soldiers approached and executed them both.
- Catherine Lutz, "Masculine, Racial, and Martial Formations"

   I worked with Anthropologist Catherine Lutz on the book Homefront: A Military City and the American twentieth Century (Beacon Press, 2001) - an analysis of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Over 30 of my photographs are included in the book. Homefront examines the relationship between the military and society and the effects of such a relationship, both physically and culturally, on a Southern town. This project also explores the dynamics of urbanization, post-industrialization, and militarization in the South. My photographs investigate and document how Fayetteville's architecture reflects and supports the presence of Fort Bragg and how the base intersects with the city. The photographs show the resulting landscape of an active military base, conveying the power of test explosions, the absurdity of paratroopers dropping out of the sky regularly, and miles of scorched trees. Death, loss, violence, war, and aggression are articulated throughout Fayetteville.
    Bragg Murders is a photographic installation in response to the murder of two African Americans by neo-nazi soldiers from Fort Bragg in 1995. I am interested in how differently photographs function depending on their context. I would like this photograph of silk flowers that were placed on the side of a dirt road by Michael James' sister, at the spot where the racist murder happened, to fill you with sorrow, horror, memory, loss, and death. I also want it to shine critical light on the connection between the military and violence in America, violence between Americans. Bragg Murders is a memorial to Michael James and Jackie Burden - "two innocent people walking down the street", but it is also a testimony to the power and need to mark history. When Catherine Lutz and I first turned down Hall Street, where the murders occurred, she stopped the car and we cried. Rain-washed the dirt road into mud. Silk flowers and a golden cupid, supported by broken bricks and chunks of asphalt, lean on the side of the road. Although there is no body underground, this is a serious tombstone, heavier than granite, sadder than a mausoleum. On the other side of the road is a different collection of silk ivy and flowers, more wilted, lower to the ground, almost missed, like a crumpled body.
    We tend to forget such incidents too quickly, or we dismiss them as random and infrequent acts of crazy violence or erase them from history to feel safer. Fayetteville Reverend Vivian Collins tried to reassure people that the shooting was an isolated incident and not a sign of racial problems in the community. She was worried that the murders would spark racial tension. Collins said community leaders need to make sure the shooting does not cause racial tension in the community. "They need to reassure the public that our community is safe. If not, we are going to have an outrage in our community." But murder is more than tension. Murder is irreversible. And racial tension is a polite term for racism. These murders are tragic evidence that racial tension and hatred are alive and well in America today. These murders are proof that our community is already NOT safe. As Collins continues, "These guys (the murderers) are protectors of our country. I wouldn't want to fight beside them. It's not the enemy I have to be worried about, it's the people fighting with me."








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