Flyer created by Rachael James (@alsorae) listing names of some of those who have died as a result of police brutality.

The August 14th National Moment of Silence was organized by Feminista Jones, a writer, activist and organizer. The event was a“ vigil paying respect to fatal victims of police shootings and brutality.” In the lead up to the event I noticed that the call for participation included instructions to wear red ribbons to show solidarity. The photos from the NMOS show people followed the instructions and the results were striking. I wondered if Jones was drawing a connection between police brutality targeted at black people and the systemic ways in which HIV/AIDS rates are understood to be higher for black folks across the gender spectrum. In the interview below Jones speaks to Visual AIDS about the use of the red ribbon, the connection between police brutality and HIV/AIDS, and the importance of silence and solidarity.

Visual AIDS: In the call for participation for NMOS you wrote: " To identify each other and show solidarity, wear a red ribbon/cloth/bandana on your right arm at the vigils. Do not wear red if in areas where doing so can cause conflict." Did you know that the red ribbon was created to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS?

Feminista Jones: Red ribbons existed before HIV/AIDS, so I don't believe they were created for that purpose. I do, however, understand that a crossed red ribbon has been used to symbolize HIV/AIDS awareness. I also know that red is used in many flags of the countries of the African diaspora, which represents the blood of Black people, which has been spilled for centuries because of European colonization. Red is also used in signs that represent "stop"/ "yield", so in the calling for an "end" to police brutality (and blood spilling of Black people), red makes sense.

Visual AIDS: Were you meaning to draw a connection between police violence and HIV/AIDS?

Feminista Jones: Not at all. Did not cross my mind once.

Visual AIDS: While the red ribbon was very successful in raising awareness and increasing the profile of HIV/AIDS when it was created in 1991 by the Visual AIDS Artist Caucus, many activists at the time were frustrated by it. They saw it as lazy activism, or kitsch, comparable to what we know call slacktivism. In organizing your event, where you concerned with people mis understanding the goals of National Moment of Silence?

Feminista Jones: No. I made the goals quite clear. When asked, I was able to clearly articulate the goals. There are also 100 articles about NMOS14 and at least 90% of them clearly convey the goals. I tried to refer people to them, as I don't care to repeat myself when I've made things clear, if that makes sense. Click here for the list.

Visual AIDS: Mikael Owunna's portrait of a young black man wearing a red ribbon and a shirt that reads, "I am Mike Brown" at an NMOS14 event is powerful and speaks to the intersections of violence that are reducing life chances for black people across America. As organizers of the NMOS14 event, are you happy with the multiple readings of the event? Is this what you meant by solidarity?

Feminista Jones: Yes. There were at least 115 vigils at last count and that represents great solidarity among American people. To know that that many people were observing a moment of silence at the same exact time was powerful. We were "one" in a necessary moment in history.

Visual AIDS: Thinking about the event, why was a moment of silence important to you and how did you feel when Anonymous tried to take over the event with "rage"?

Feminista Jones: It was important to reflect on the lives lost and eternally affected by police brutality. Being silent, focused, and observant for a moment is the very least we can do for the victims and their families. I'm used to Anonymous' antics. I was bothered that they chose this moment to be destructive, but it showed people just how little they care about the safety and well-being of Black people. They encouraged people to agitate and some of the vigils had White agitators who acted on behalf of Anonymous' call for a day of "rage". Their privilege affords them space for defiance and agitation, as they know the police will not treat them the same as they treat Black people. As a Black woman, I'm also used to the historical erasure of our work and theft of our labor. This country was founded upon exploiting the free labor and reproductive abilities of Black women. What Anonymous did is nothing new. It's quite American, actually.

Visual AIDS: Moving forward, do you see NMOS being an ongoing platform to address police and state violence?

Feminista Jones: Absolutely. The organizers remain in touch and are planning more events locally and working together to keep the conversations and efforts going. Change is coming and this was a great launching point for many who have never been politically active.

Learn more about Feminista Jones from her website, including up to date information on National Moment of Silence news and information: feministajones