“Stains on the Sidewalk” Project Shares Haunting Photos of Baltimore Homicide Scenes Taken One Year Later
In one particularly striking photograph by Amy Berbert, a motel parking lot in Baltimore sits empty, save for a custodian’s cart piled with towels, halfway visible on the right side of the frame. The door to room 215 is bright red and shut tight; a flock of pigeons scatters above the sloping roof as if fleeing from an unseen pursuer.
Inside the motel, one year before Berbert captured the scene, Edward Yesaitis lost his life. For the last month, Berbert has been sharing similar photographs on her Instagram account @stainsonthesidewalk, each of which documents the scene of a homicide in Baltimore. Berbert visits her locations exactly a year after the killings transpired–down to the minute–taking images that are devoid of people, filled with pavement, shadows, and orange street light. “For one year I am planning my life around other people’s death,” Berbert, a senior at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, told SPIN. “I wake up in the middle of the night and drive across the city to stand in a moment of silence as I grieve the death of someone I never met and never will.”
Berbert intends to take one such photograph for every single killing in Baltimore in 2016 (320 of them, by her count). Her ambition calls to mind Officer Involved, a piece by the artist Josh Begley that collected images from Google Street View at the site of every reported police killing in 2015.
Berbert’s project was inspired by the spike in homicides in Baltimore the followed the police killing of Freddie Gray that year. “I am doing this to commemorate the lives of these 320 people,” she said. “I want to acknowledge that they lived and died in this place. I am not concerned with whether or not they were drug addicts, drug dealers, gang members, pimps, prostitutes, thieves, rapists or murderers. Human life matters, and any loss of it is just that: a loss.”
See more of Berbert’s photos below, and follow the project at @stainsonthesidewalk.