After police officers killed George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, four Black creatives from the Washington, D.C. office of SmithGroup Architecture resolved to convey, in a work of art, the omnipresence and impact of institutional racism.
Initially debuting in Washington D.C. at the National Mall, and later shown in Baltimore, Maryland and then Tulsa, Oklahoma during the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, Society's Cage currently stands in front of Oakland's City Hall.
"It needed to be in the seat of government," says Randolph Belle, Executive Director of Support Oakland Artists. "Because that's where all of the policy makers and legislators are who can impact the topics at hand. "
Society's Cage is a literal 15' x 15' cage, composed of large steel rods and small lights. It is inscribed with names of those who've died at the hands of police violence, as well as those whose lives have been dedicated to fighting racism. Standing in the middle of its rods, among its heavy weight, one feels the heinous displays of race-based hatred this country has shown.
It's also mathematically accurate. Created by Dayton Mark Schroeter, Julian Arrington, Monteil Crawley, Ivan O'Garro, the piece's dimensions draw upon statistics related to inequalities in the criminal justice system.