Jeff Karoub | Staff, Michigan News

Breathe for Those Denied” asks questions – questions that can be hard to answer. What crimes could justify so many instances of police brutality? In the case of George Floyd, what “threat” needed nearly 9 minutes of a knee pressed to a prone man’s neck? Of course, he wasn’t alone. I learned from The New York Times that during the past decade, at least 70 people have died in police custody after saying the same words — “I can’t breathe.” The majority had been stopped or held for nonviolent infractions, 911 calls about suspicious behavior, or concerns about their mental health. And yes, more than half were black. I felt the urge to process what was happening through music. It was, in my very small way, a way to stand — and breathe — for those denied. I wasn’t responding to an existing artwork, per se, though I know I’m not alone wrestling with this theme. And that’s as it should be. The more voices lifted — and sung — in the name of equal justice under the law, the closer we get to complete the work begun long ago. And long overdue.