Vogue CS in English
10 black photojournalists on documenting the US’s Black Lives Matter protests
tým VOGUE4. 6. 2020
Since the death of George Floyd on 25 May, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across the world to demand justice for the 46-year-old black man and call for an end to systemic racism. We speak to 10 photographers who have been covering the demonstrations.
In the past week, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man killed in Minneapolis on 25 May, after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Powerful photographs show demonstrators gathering en masse in cities around the world, including in the US, UK, France, Italy and Germany. In America, protesters have been breaking curfews in order to call for an end to police brutality and global systemic racism, with banners held aloft including simple demands such as “Stop Killing Black Men” and “I Can’t Breathe” — the latter being the final words uttered by Floyd as he was pinned to the ground by police. The names of Floyd and other unarmed black people killed in the US in recent years, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin have also been chanted by protesters.
While the demonstrations have mostly been peaceful, some have descended into violence with police using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Here, we speak to 10 black photojournalists about documenting the protests that have risen up across the US.
“While documenting the protest you can feel that everyone is tired of black people being treated as if we are not humans. It was a moment of solidarity. As a black woman, it was tough to photograph this experience but I knew it had to be done. My role in this movement is to document these times and to clarify misconceptions placed on the misunderstood, which in this case are ‘black people’.”
Foto: Dee Dwyer
30 May 2020. Solomon from Virginia stands in front of a police car wearing a face mask with George F loyd's last words at the Black Lives Matter march for George Floyd in Washington DC, near the White House.
“Black women have historically played critical roles in protest movements because racism and police brutality directly affects us. Not only are we being killed, but we are losing our fathers, our brothers, our husbands and our sons. This photo was taken at the Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles. BLM was founded by three black women, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.”
Foto: Stephanie Mei-Ling
30 May 2020. Black Lives Matter protest, Los Angeles.
“Walking with everyone during the protest was an act of solidarity, though people were visibly unnerved by the inexplicable acts committed by police all over the country. The palpable thump in everyone's pace was unimaginative, yet peace was our main goal. George Floyd's death, along with the killing of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery, was the last straw as we experience a pandemic that is also affecting my community in disproportionate numbers. The fervour shown throughout the evening gave more hope, and a moment of clarity for those who wonder why black folks are continuously fighting for equality and a day we don't have to literally fight for our lives.”
Foto: Lynsey Weatherspoon
29 May 2020. Protesters in Atlanta, Georgia, over the death of George Floyd and other African-Americans killed by police brutality.
“This protest was unlike any I've attended before. You could see the pain and anger in everyone's eyes, their emotions radiated from their faces despite the masks.”
Foto: Mark Clennon
30 May 2020. Ria Foye being arrested in Times Square, New York, after peacefully protesting.
“In life, we often have times where it’s imperative that we choose a side and be resolute in our decision. That choice is not always easy, safe or comfortable. Truth and justice rarely are. Truth and justice though is a cause always worth fighting for. To see a man on crutches marching, to me, was so impactful. It truly takes all excuses away from anyone able-bodied that believes in this cause to not physically be a part of it.”
Foto: James Barnes
31 May 2020. A man on crutches marches in New York for George Floyd.
“I use my lens to capture black life in ways that challenge the status quo and dismantle false notions of propriety in the face of cruelty and injustice. At the same time, our story is also one of resilience, virtue and beauty, too. To be a part of this historic moment, on the frontlines, seeing race, politics, culture and economics collide with a global pandemic. This is a surreal moment to be alive and as a black woman documentary photographer, there's nowhere else I'd rather be than on the frontlines.”
Foto: Vanessa Charlot
29 May 2020. People protesting over the death of George Floyd in downtown St Louis, Missouri.
“I witnessed a peaceful protest that encompassed people of all races fighting for justice for George Floyd. It was a powerful exhibit of humanity.”
Foto: Kay Hickman
30 May 2020. A mother and son watch protesters in Brooklyn, New York.
“What a time we’re in right now. George Floyd’s death was the last straw that ignited the rage that we as a people have had for hundreds of years. Black people have had enough. From Minneapolis to New York to LA to Atlanta and other states, the fire burns as the youth and the elders express themselves by any means and demand that this country changes. More and more, we are going to have real conversations about the issues of systemic white supremacy in this country and world and those in power will be held accountable.”
Foto: Anthony B Geathers
30 May 2020. A young black man raises his fist to show solidarity with the other black protesters in the protest at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York.
9. Tony Mobley, Baltimore, Maryland
“My experience in documenting the protests here in Washington DC and Baltimore has been one of a messenger or conveyor of the injustices that my African-American brothers and sisters have had to endure for over 400 years while being here in the US. The camera has been my ‘megaphone’ if you will, showing how strong and resilient our people are, but also exposing to the world through these protests that egregious acts will no longer be tolerated in our communities. The people of our country are voicing their frustrations and hurt through these protests to demand justice and perhaps maybe now the world is finally listening which will invoke the change that we have been longing for in America.”
Foto: Tony Mobley
2 June 2020, Baltimore, Maryland.
“I made it home at exactly 7.57pm, three minutes before the 8pm curfew, and as I sat in my car shaking, I realised I was not OK. The cruelty I witnessed by the police on Fairfax and 3rd will stay with me forever. You have all seen the videos. The gassing. The rubber bullets. The beatings and mass arrests. Even though the rage and sorrow still linger, the love I have for every black person who has marched, protested, and organised past and present is what’s keeping me together.”