The first time an Unarmed jersey was manufactured as a garment was for a character's costume in founder Raafi Rivero's feature-length 72 Hours: a Brooklyn Love Story?, which was filmed in late 2014. (Stream on Amazon). Unarmed preexisted the film by more than a year but the film marked the first time Unarmed left social media and entered the physical world. In November 2021, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures screened 72 Hours, marking a major milestone for both the film and for Unarmed.
The Oscar Grant jersey pictured above (22) was used in the film along with the Eric Garner and Mike Brown jerseys from the other pic. 72 Hours was filmed during a period of heavy protests in New York City. Akai Gurley was killed by an NYPD officer during the initial period of production. A retaliatory killing of police officers followed not long after. Many times cast and crew would leave the set to join in marches that swirled around the city. The spirit of Unarmed was a part of the production both on- and off-screen.
Here are some stills from the finished film. The Louis D character wears an Unarmed jersey in each of his scenes.
In advance of the screening at the Academy Museum, Raafi appeared on a panel discussion alongside Oscar nominees Ava DuVernay and Bradford Young as well as former Howard University professor Daniel E. Williams. The panel was the first event in a retrospective honoring independent film icon Haile Gerima, headliner of the panel, whose works have inspired a generation of black filmmakers.
And while Unarmed is perfectly comfortable in a fancy museum, the core of the project will always be about meeting people where they are – on the streets.