KEITH STAFFORD WAS MURDERED

2021, 28 days
Participatory performance
in Tallahassee, FL

Keith Stafford Was Murdered not only engaged the local houseless community in its preconception, but it invited the citizens of Tallahassee to become participants in a constructed social narrative. By spectacularizing preexisting conditions, a departure from reality helps participants question what they are willing to accept as the status quo. The undesirability of transient persons is an unjust reaction to their displacement. Unempathetic populations view such persons as phantoms – for to live in purgatory might mean we are dead.

Dedicated to the loving memory of Keith Stafford

Collaboratively constructed and installed
with Eric Champagne and Hailey

Keith Stafford nik rye
HTSL1661_edited.jpg

Keith Stafford's death is covered, but not defined as the hate crime it was. A crucial detail was also left out. As an act of displacement, the City had recently removed a bus shelter at the corner of Railroad Ave and Gaines St. Keith had used this bus shelter to sleep safely for almost a decade. Without it for just two weeks, he went to the hospital twice from sun poisoning and dehydration before he was killed. 

Ray-Ray, one of Keith's closest friends, is interviewed about the stabbing soon after. Having been there, Ray-Ray is traumatized but the City of Tallahassee does little to protect him. Ray-Ray is stabbed by the same man months later. He survived. 

IN
THE NEWS

ON
THE STREETS

Members of the houseless community in Tallahassee were terrified and saddened by the murder of Keith Stafford, but they were also angry. Acknowledging the severe lack of compassion, action, and coverage, nik rye organized meetings with activists, artists, and unhoused residents to create what would become Keith Stafford Was Murdered. 

Eric Champagne and Hailey collaboratively built the community access point with nik rye: a make-shift bus shelter and memorial. The structure combined DIY protest aesthetics with functionality to critique not only the City of Tallahassee's failure to protect its unhoused residents, but also to send a clear message:

The City of Tallahassee is complicit in the murder of Keith Stafford.