What’s Going On? 1969–1974 by Ken Light (Light Squared Media) opens with three memos to the Acting Director of the FBI sent in 1971 and ’72. The subject is the author himself. His movements were being monitored and sent up the chain of command. Light got his start in 1969 photographing for alternative newspapers and magazines, documenting the protests across the nation. He caught the National Guard fully outfitted in gas masks and assault rifles marching across a college campus in Columbus, Ohio, in 1970, as a riot broke out protesting the invasion of Cambodia. The stark images from the riot, as well as the other protests Light photographed, were published far and wide, helping to define the times.
The attention his photographs drew caused concern from the Cleveland and Cincinnati Student Activities Committees, the agencies behind the memos to the FBI. Though one memo is largely blacked out, but the information that is released states, “Considering the fact that LIGHT is associated with the ‘Underground Press’, it is felt an interview with him could prove embarrassing to the Bureau.” The final memo reveals that Light had been investigated, and the conclusion was “…the activities of LIGHT appear to be confined to the anti-war, anti-draft, and anti-establishment areas, and no information has been developed which indicates membership to a subversive organization of a propensity for violence. LIGHT therefore has been deleted from the Cincinnati Adex and active investigation has been discontinued.”
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Photo: © Ken Light, Black Panther rally, Oakland, California.