This is America // 2020
Within 24 hours demonstrators organized in a half-dozen cities; by June 9th, just two weeks after Floyd’s death, hundreds of thousands of people had taken to the streets.
Individual and collective outrage, grief and cries for justice reverberated in small towns and large cities alike; turnouts ranged from dozens to tens of thousands as parents with children in strollers, young professionals, grandparents and activists joined hands, raised fists, marched, scrawled posters emblazoned with calls for justice and regularly took a knee in silence.
The death of a Black man at the hands of a police officer has historically not itself been enough to galvanize the public.
But this death–a murder–was one unambiguously captured on video and begged a question echoed in chants and written on signs, “How many weren’t filmed"?
Protesters gathered in every state and in Washington, D.C. while social media posts from around the world showed their support for George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.
When George Floyd was murdered I was in Syracuse, New York after finishing my last semester of graduate school. Like many journalists, I immediately grabbed my camera and went to the street.
For more than 40 days I documented a group of citizens who committed to 30 days of consecutive demonstrations; they called themselves, “The Last Chance for Change”.
After Syracuse I traveled to my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where more than ten thousand people marched across the cities’ iconic bridges and through historic, immigrant neighborhoods.
After the murder of Daniel Prude I traveled to Rochester, New York where protesters echoed a compounded rage–they had already been demonstrating regularly when Prude was killed at the hands of a Rochester police officer.
Ultimately, much of the summer of 2020 was spent in Portland, Oregon, where protesters mobilized for more than 100 days and nights. During the day demonstrations remained peaceful and the presence of law enforcement was minimal. At night some protesters clashed with police officers, committed acts of arson and destroyed property. Officers responded with indiscriminate and disproportionate force and in July, Federal troops descended on the city as part of former President's Trump's Operation Diligent Valor. The decision was made under the guise of protecting Federal property but served to re-ignite momentum that at the time had been fading.
These images represent but my vantage on a summer of protest representing the most enduring trial of American racism in modern times.
For more: my collection “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” depicts some of the disproportionate and indiscriminate force witnessed and “We Can do Better” is a short video of one of the toughest nights on the ground in Portland, Oregon.