As the recent events of Ferguson unfolded before America last month, protests began across the 50 states with citizens enraged by what was happening there and in other parts of our country. Los Angeles and San Francisco was no exception with the west coast also brewing with activists and those that wanted to be heard.
The rage still simmers on but it must have been tempered by the want of protesters to want to go home and spend their holidays with their loved ones. It seems much quieter now. The struggle will soon find another reason, time and place but it hit so close to home, we wanted to share with our fans a great photo essay by photo journalist and photographer, theonepointeight. His sharp photo coverage and essay diligently documents the Los Angeles protests and helps us reflect on what will become of the continued struggle for progress and justice for all.
The following is a direct account by the photographer:
“Last month I documented the Los Angeles protests that erupted across the city after the controversial decision in Ferguson, Missouri not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer responsible for the death of Michael Brown. What I witnessed on the streets was anger and frustration from the protesters, but there were also peaceful gatherings where people simply wanted to be heard. Nothing more.
From a distance, it’s easy to label the protests as an “Us Vs. Them” dilemma, but as one gets closer, it’s much more complicated than that. There’s a lot of gray areas in between. There were police officers who did not interrupt the protests and were simply there to keep the peace. But I also witnessed moments of anxiety, tension, nervousness and anger from both sides. Moments which could have easily exploded into mayhem not too different from the rioting that occurred in Ferguson.
The protests lasted no more than a few days. By the time a rainy Thanksgiving came around, people were back in their homes and a percentage of the protesters were arrested and later bailed out during the Holidays. What started as a valiant effort to protest police brutality unfortunately came and went as if nothing had occurred. Why did this happen?
Perhaps there’s not enough frustration coming from the citizens to change the system. Or maybe there’s not enough organization long-term to really take a stand and change things. Or perhaps most of us just don’t care — We’re too busy trying to make a living, paying bills and support a way of life which force us to keep in line and not disrupt the Establishment. As many people as I saw out on the streets with a deep passion to change things, I saw many more simply watching and smiling from the sidelines. Many of them taking photos behind the windows of fancy restaurants and office buildings. People honking and laughing safely from their cars before they sped away to their next destination. Just small slices of entertainment in the lives of Angelenos.
The truth is many of the police officers are not out there to cause harm. Like many of the protesters, at the end of the day they simply want to feel safe and go home to their friends and families. Isn’t that what we all want really? The system they’re obliged to protect may is flawed at times and yes, it can often be deeply corrupt (as we saw once again in the case of Eric Garner) so people have the right to be angry and demand a change. But ultimately, what I noticed during the L.A. protests were groups of people from opposite sides of the spectrum doing what they think is best for themselves and for the community they’re a part of.
I do hope this photo essay can shine a light on the complexities of the protests. I did not want to simply show the events from the distance but rather show the faces and the emotions of all those who were out on the streets standing up for what they believed in, which is more than one can say about the rest of us.” – Theonepointeight