It was a busy weekend here in the Bay Area, ending with a sometimes violent rally held at at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. The event began quietly and then quickly ramped up into violence. I avoided the main scrum and stayed around the edges. However, quite a bit of activity happened where I was stationed near Allston and MLK, where I made the photos below. 13 people were arrested, but thankfully nothing happened as tragic as what took place in Charlottesville a few weeks ago.
Last week was busy in the Bay Area with multiple rallies and protests connected to the presidential inauguration. I was sent to cover two protests, both at or near Oakland City Hall on two separate days, for the San Francisco Chronicle.
As this was the same area that was exposed to rioting following the 2016 election, it was all-hands-on-deck. For the protest following the inauguration, photojournalists, myself included, would work in overlapping shifts that began at 7am in the morning and didn't end until 15 hours later. For those who've never experienced it, covering a large, all-day protest with the threat of possible violence in the evening required a bit of planning and mental preparation. Having covered the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, where I was shot in the arm with a "non-lethal" projectile and sucked up plenty of CS gas, I made sure my ducks were in a row: putting the flak vest and helmet into my car, as well as making sure I had a fresh respirator cartridge in my gas mask.
While covering Ferguson, I learned an important lesson. I had bought a gas mask from local Army surplus store the day after my first night of coverage where I found out just how nasty CS gas is. Like clockwork, gas came again the next night. It was only then I learned that filter cartridges have expiration dates. Whoopsy! Luckily, things didn't progress in that direction in Oakland this time around. After all was said and done, I think only three people were arrested out of a march of thousands, which I've learned is apparently very tame by Oakland standards.
By the way, I'm totally great with tame protests. Imagine looking for moments to photograph while simultaneously keeping an eye open for anarchists looking to punch me, or grab my camera, while carrying about 30 pounds of gear following four hours of marching. It's a lot to think about.
The images I've included in this post aren't necessarily the most storytelling or dramatic, just my favorites from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!
I don't typically post protest photos, simply because often times, it's just people standing around holding signs - not exactly exciting stuff. Yesterday, however, offered something I've never experienced in my career: a crowd of hundreds, expressing their frustration at the Trayvon Martin verdict, marched and then shut down a major Houston freeway for about 15 minutes or so. Interestingly, the police never really showed up en masse. A couple of squad cars arrived and parked on the overpass, but in the end, a rainstorm blew in and with it, the demonstration was over.
During a massive cleaning of my office, I rediscovered some negatives from a self-assigned shoot to photograph a Tea Party rally in the summer of 2009 (I think) at a race track in Bay Town, Texas. Wanting to try something different, I rented a Hasselblad medium format camera and made the trek out to the rally. I seem to be attracted to the overt patriotism: flags and people dressed up as figures from American history, as well as a sense of the paranoia of a dystopian, socialist future that seems to drive much of the conversation at these events. Also to note: I shot a couple of different film stocks. One is chrome and the other was an expired batch of porta left over from grad school.[gallery]