April 28, 2015
My #MICAphoto students and I went out to photograph in Baltimore this morning, to document and bear witness to the tragic events of last night. When we started, we saw lots of communities and volunteers helping each other, cleaning up, pitching in. We saw many stores with broken glass and a CVS that was completely burned out inside, products fused into indistinguishable debris. But amid all of this, there were families with small children helping to sweep broken glass, volunteers passing out garbage bags and water, and more press credentials than I could count. There were community organizers passing out voter registration forms and trying to encourage civic participation.
While we were by North Ave & Pennsylvania Ave, we watched the police mass, from a few officers when we arrived, to 100+ over the span of an hour. This led to them sealing off the block, displacing all those that were trying to help peacefully. The police then proceeded to hold the block – 27 officers standing shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear – while continuing to stage behind their line. A special phalanx of riot cops formed behind the lines, then broke through the police line and through the crowd to apprehend and carry a restrained individual back behind the lines. The crowd scattered in fear and then cautiously regrouped. The police then installed a sniper team on a nearby roof and began buzzing the crowd with a helicopter. The energy was too intense and we felt that we needed to leave before it touched off.
The police seemed intent on a show of force and what was a peaceful community gathering turned into something more sinister. In my opinion, the atmosphere would not have changed without the police provocations. These sorts of manufactured crisis have an agenda, but make no mistake – this narrative is not serving, nor representative of, the people of Baltimore. Do not believe the spin in the mainstream media – it only serves to create fear to drive ratings.
My heart is heavy.
Below: “A Portrait of 27 Police Officers, as Positioned, South to North, 2015”