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Don’t shoot – Bambi: police, racism and Nike

By Martin Smith | 4 January 2015

Don't Shoot by Bambi (pic credit)

Don’t Shoot by Bambi (pic credit)

Rivington Street in Shoreditch, East London is home to some classic pieces of street art.

There, protected under clear perspex glass, you can see two pieces by Banksy, Thierry Noir’s colourful characters adorn shop walls and doorways and the word ‘SCARY’ is painted in huge letters on the side of a railway bridge, it’s the work of artist Eine.

But if you are anywhere near Rivington Street, there is a more important piece of street art, it is a condemnation of police brutality in Ferguson and one that has angered one of the most powerful corporations – Nike.

Reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s ‘pop’ art figures and painted on a brick wall are five identical boys with one hand in the air. In blood red lettering and written five times across the painting are the words “Don’t Shoot”. On the boys’ chests you will see a Nike tick with ‘Don’t Do It” written below. Finally instead of balls at the boys feet there are skulls.

The artist responsible for the piece is Bambi.

Very little is known about Bambi, she has been called the “female Banksy” and some believe Bambi is in fact the moniker of the pop singer Paloma Faith. Most of Bambi’s work can be found in Islington and Camden and up until recently her work has concentrated on pop art images of famous people.

This piece is on a different level, it is a brilliant piece of political art and a denunciation of the murder of Michael Brown by the police in Ferguson.

Close up of Don't Shoot (pic credit Martin Smith)

Close up of Don’t Shoot (pic credit Martin Smith)

I didn’t spot it at first but stenciled in black are the words:

You abuse your powers again & again
Filthy blue lies flow and flow
You shot him six times for just jaywalking home

Also stenciled in white below is the text:

You abuse your powers again & again
Another innocent unarmed soul is murdered in your name
Filthy blue lies flow and flow
You shot him six times for just jaywalking home
Left in a pool of blood on the street
But you think it’s just another day on the beat
Come on justice must be done or anarchy will bite you on the bum

Bambi

But Bambi’s work isn’t just a condemnation of police murder, just a hundred metres and in the next side street is Nikelab. These corporate beasts have incorporated street art to sell their sports apparel; “Just Do It” is painted on a nearby railway bridge wall in huge letters.

Enraged by Bambi’s work, Nike have demanded the council remove the work. A
security camera has been installed on the wall and a notice has gone up saying:

‘You are being filmed, if you graffiti our building you will be prosecuted.”

The hypocrisy is amazing, businesses in this area love to promote street art, use it to sell their goods and promote their businesses. But as soon as a piece of art that condemns police violence and mocks the biggest corporation in the area is painted, up go the cameras, the law is used and the corporate vandalism begins.

Who killed Bambi – don’t let it be Nike – try and see this work before it gets taken down.



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