Photos & Projects

The #BlackLivesMatter Protests in NYC & a Canonet G-III QL17 – By Jive

June 21, 2020

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd a massive wave of protests swept the country and the world. When the protests started happening in NYC, I really wanted to be out there and document the history that was unfolding in front of us. I’m still very shaky on using the subways due to the pandemic, so I wanted to ride my bicycle to and from the protests. This meant I would have to be weight conscious with what I was carrying.

Initially I wanted to bring out my Digital camera with a huge 70-200mm lens, but putting that in my backpack and trying to ride my bicycle across any of the bridges in NYC would be insane, along with lugging a heavy backpack around in the summer heat. I ended up grabbing my Canonet G-III QL17, and bringing a few rolls of Ilford HP5, FP4 and 1 roll of Fuji Superia with me. Oh, let me not forget my N95 mask, because… you know… pandemic.

Woman waving sage

Girl having a conversation with the police

March across the Brooklyn Bridfe

The image of the woman standing next to the police looks like there was some tension, but the police and protestors were friendly with each other. The woman was waving sage around, and spreading it onto the crowd, and then moved over to the police and asked if she could do the same for them. They obliged. The sheer size of the crowds was the most eye-opening thing for me. New York City is in the midst of a pandemic, and hardly anybody is working. This meant that everybody was out in droves. New York City was transformed amongst solidarity and upheaval.

My friend and mentor, Joseph Rodriguez, spoke to me months ago about how important it was to document the pandemic and how it was changing the city and the people. We would have to be the photographers to capture this piece of history, he would say. So when the protests started happening, I felt that same sense of responsibility. You could read the different versions of stories from many sides of the argument, but nothing captures the atmosphere quite like a photograph.

Photography holds so much power, not only in our history, but also our future. These photos speak to anger and grace, despair and hope. I believe it is important to use my photography to support justice and basic human rights for everyone by sharing stories that need to be told.

Washington Square Park filled to the brim

Huge crowd walking up Broadway

Fist in the air

The scene in New York was one of solidarity. People were lined up passing out water, snacks, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Interactions with the police were mostly conversations that were kept friendly, and if they began to escalate, someone would step in and keep the crowds moving. I saw people of all races, creeds, colors and genders. There were little children, young adults, old ladies, and everything in-between amongst the crowds.

After what felt like hours on my bike and feet almost every day for 2 weeks, I was really glad I chose a quick and lightweight rangefinder to take with me. Nothing is really like putting a rangefinder to your eye. My idea of documentary photography is that it is not about perfection, but emotion. Documentary photography is a style of photography that provides a straightforward and accurate representation of people, places, objects and events. Rangefinder shooting harkens back to a simpler time: lightweight, low bulk, small size. These perks made it easy for me to move around the crowds, not draw too much attention to myself, and squeeze into tight spots to get the shot.

Here are some more photos from the past 2 weeks:

Man holding up a sign in Washington Square Park

Man came out of his building to hold up a fist

Guy kneeling before the police

March across the Brooklyn Bridge

The police leading a wave of people

People in front of the history Washington St. photo

I’m all over the place, but you can catch me on my Instagram.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Ed
    June 21, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    Powerful images.

    But #BLM the movement, as opposed to a chorus of outrage to make certain black lives matter, isn’t benign, Read their manifesto,.

    In the middle of a pandemic, mass crowds of hundreds of thousands serves a political end and not a public health one. Defeats the 4 months shutdown of the Earth.

    • Reply
      Pete
      June 22, 2020 at 3:38 pm

      I feel unease at mass demonstrations at this time, too. But as long ago as 2015, Harvard researchers suggested that the death rate of black males at the hands of US police should be considered a significant public health issue. It wasn’t. Assuming that you believe that a death rate of one in a thousand black men at the hands of police is unacceptable, and assuming you believe it to be unfair that black men are about three times as likely to die of Covid than white men, what alternative do you suggest? I’m not black, but, like most people, I believe in fairness. How to achieve it?

      • Reply
        ed
        June 23, 2020 at 3:54 am

        The depraved, criminal acts of certain members odfthe constabulary and the fear the average black male has to endure on a daily basis is unconscionable .

        But the public health issue is indeed premature death of young black men, but their deaths at the hands of other black men outnumbers these tragic cases by factors of hundreds. Perhaps thousands. In NY City and Chicago, the murder rates due to gunplay has quadrupled and none of these are due to the police or white citizens.

        That black men die of Covid is due to several factors; being male (for one), higher rates of tobacco use, higher rates of hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

      • Reply
        Ed
        June 23, 2020 at 2:14 pm

        The depravity of some of the constabulary and the fear too many African American men endure on a daily basis is unconscionable. However African American men die young because they are murdered by other African American men at a factor of thousands of times greater than at the hands of the police.
        The death rates among African American men because of Covid are due to several factors; being make, higher rates of smoking, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Just an epidemiological phenomenon

        • Reply
          Pete
          June 23, 2020 at 6:20 pm

          I suspect that you are both clever and well educated. Assuming that’s the case, you can’t really believe that. Whilst there isn’t presently enough data to quantify the relative importance of all of the relevant risk factors, including those you mention, common sense dictates that people that are employed in jobs that come into contact with many others – often without adequate protection – and those that live in densely populated inner-city areas – often the most heavily polluted – will be at greater risk. Any structural biases present in society that lead to any race or culture unwillingly being over-represented in such jobs or living conditions should, to the best of our collective effort, be eradicated. It’s simple decency.

  • Reply
    David Icke
    June 21, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    #plandemic
    #sorosfundsblm
    #controlledopposition
    #the1percentdontgiveashitaboutblackpeople
    #thisisgoingnowhere
    #waitandsee
    #2ndwaveofcovid19tobeginwhenthisdiesdown

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      June 22, 2020 at 1:17 pm

      #NiceTinfoilHat

    • Reply
      Ed
      June 23, 2020 at 3:58 am

      #probably

  • Reply
    Pete
    June 21, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    An important article with brilliant photos. Thank you

    • Reply
      Jive
      June 22, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      Pete, thanks for the kind words.

  • Reply
    Leo
    June 22, 2020 at 6:36 am

    Wow! Powerful images! Thank you for your diligence in documenting history as it unfolded!

    • Reply
      Jive
      June 22, 2020 at 3:55 pm

      Hey Leo. I definitely would have felt guilty just sitting on my hands and not being out there.

  • Reply
    Richard
    June 22, 2020 at 8:58 am

    I have been trying to take some photo’s here and there to document the impact of the pandemic. The photo’s are nothing to really write home about but I think they still show what’s going on in a good enough way. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  • Reply
    Shubroto Bhattacharjee
    June 22, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Small; silent leaf-shutter; Quick Loading; easy operation; fast lens; automatic operation; but, above all, your eye — just look at the resulting feast! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Jive
      June 22, 2020 at 3:56 pm

      You nailed it, the cameras was so easy to work with. It’s really a little gem. Thank you so much for your kind words. 🙂

  • Reply
    Andrew Karlson
    June 22, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    You’ve captured some really beautiful and powerful images. Thank you!

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