Kyle Steed makes public art with a message. His best known contribution? The Dallas City Mural on the Trinity Strand Trail, bearing the following twist on President Kennedy's famous statement: "Ask not what your city can do for you, but what you can do for your city."
In the wake of Thursday's tragic shooting that killed five police officers and wounded 11 stationed at a downtown rally protesting police brutality, as well as two civilians, Steed has returned with another invocation for Dallas. Friday morning, he released a shirt bearing the words "This must stop," which will sell for $15 and benefit the Dallas Police Department. Fifty have already been preordered as of Friday afternoon.
Steed is originally from Georgia but has lived in Dallas with his family for the last nine years. Last night he and his wife were FaceTiming with some friends in Colorado, having just put their two young daughters to sleep, when they began receiving text messages from friends downtown, alerting them to the ongoing situation. Awaking Friday morning, he decided to make something that might help in some way, however small.
"I was really confused and felt frustrated," Steed says. "Being a creative person, I don't know of any better way to show my support or to say something other than making something. For me I just had this strong urge or desire to give something back and put this out here."
After reading reports of Chief Brown's Friday morning press conference about the shooting — where he said, "All I know is this must stop; this divisiveness between our police and our citizens" — Steed set to work designing a shirt that incorporates those words.
"[Chief Brown's statement] immediately grabbed my attention and I internalized it," Steed says. "I know you can look at the events from all different angles. It's a black issue, and it's a white issue. Our country is at a boiling point. Those words felt like a cry from last night and across the nation."
Steed emphasizes that while the shirt will benefit DPD, it speaks to the violence that has been occurring across the country, not just in Dallas. It equally mourns the loss of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, whose brutal deaths at the hands of officers this week spawned Thursday's rally.
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"It's hard to raise two daughters and know that, sadly, this is a common occurrence," Steed says. "I had to have a little bit of a breakdown this morning. I'm happy my daughters are young enough that they are shielded from that. I want to be able to point back on this time and say that we were doing something as parents."
Steed sent his finished image to screen-printing business Printed Threads, based in Keller, to see if he could get their support. They said they likely already have the shirts in stock, so they should be ready for production next week, if not sooner.
Steed doesn't typically use his art as a platform in this way, he says. "Between my wife and I, she's definitely the more political one; I'm not heavily involved. But this goes beyond politics. It's at the core of who we are as human beings. It affects us all."
Purchase a "This Must Stop" shirt for $15 at kylesteed.com.