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If diving into mosh pits matters, this shot matters

Dustin Klein and Alex Criqui Dustin Klein and Alex Criqui, projectionists

When the pandemic hit, Klein was out of a job as a concert lighting designer. Then George Floyd was murdered. Protestors took to the streets across the nation, including in Richmond. Graffiti was painted over the Robert E. Lee Monument, and the circle around it became the epicenter of a movement in the city.

Klein and Criqui, a VCU graduate, attended the protests and decided to bring some light into the dark.

On June 2, the two used a 4,500-lumen high-definition projector to beam an image of Floyd onto Lee’s massive pedestal — the first of many such projections that would continue over several months and feature Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman and other historic figures, messages and victims of police shootings.

The haunting and iconic image of Floyd, along with “No Justice No Peace” on Lee and his horse, appeared around the globe and on the January cover of National Geographic.

That summer in Richmond was strange and surreal — a turning point in the historic city’s story, one in which Confederate monuments fell. “But it was also really positive in a lot of ways, with a lot of ugly things we've seen,” Criqui said.

“It’s been really good to see our community come together to try to address systemic racism and these historical symbols, which have been up for way too long,” he said.

This shot matters to Klein and Criqui because everyone will be able to gather again safely as a community, they said. The pandemic made last summer’s protests risky in terms of exposure to the virus, but crowds also were necessary to send a message.

“That was the thing hanging over all of last summer — knowing we needed to come together and rise up to deal with this moment in time. But also, everyone had the specter of the pandemic hanging over our heads. You had to be very careful about what you were doing,” Criqui said. “If I care about my community, this vaccine is what I can do. It's pretty simple and painless. Sometimes you have to just trust in human goodness. There's not some sinister plot behind this. It's about saving lives.”

This past year, he said, “we've all been able to sort of take a step back and think about the type of lives we want to live, what's actually possible, what actually is essential, what's actually important, and what it means to be part of a community. And I hope that we come out of this valuing that connection a little bit more and what we can accomplish together.”

To get vaccinated, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov. To read more stories like this, visit vcuhealth.org/thisshotmatters.