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November 20th, 2021

Locked And Loaded And Pointing At Every One Of Us

In the fury to come about the Rittenhouse verdict, and how it gives right wing terrorists license to hunt and kill people protesting racist police violence, spare a moment of thought about the reporters covering those protests.

We have seen since Ferguson how the police actively target reporters on the scene. It got to the point during that unrest, that police would suddenly charge a protest line and drag away a specific person their intelligence thought was an activist leader. They would also arrest and detain news camera crews and reporters. Over time since Ferguson, it escalated to shootings of reporters and video crew with rubber bullets which were later justified as “confusion” as to whether the camera was a gun or not. 

We have seen over and over how police shootings often end up being justified by the cop saying they thought the person they shot had a gun in their hands. “I thought it was a gun”. But it turned out to just be a wallet or a cell phone.  

I thought it was a gun. Now add armed right wing civilians into the mix, lax to non-existent local firearms regulations, and local police affinity with right wing terror groups. The protests that night in Kenosha were about the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, yet another police shooting of an unarmed black man…in the back three times, and in the side twice…and clearly the Kenosha police that night appreciated the company of that squad of white militia. In fact, as the ACLU reports, they herded the protestors toward them…

“His acquittal comes after our investigation exposed how Kenosha law enforcement used violence against protesters and drove them toward white militia groups, in ways that escalated tensions and almost certainly led to these shootings…”

The white militia were on the side of the police. Against the protestors. Who were there to protest the police shooting, in the back, of an unarmed black man.

I used to go to every news event in DC with my cameras, wander among the crowds and document what was happening. Sometimes I got my photography into a local newspaper. More often it was just to capture the history I was living through for myself. I have quite an archive now of that history. I’ve put some of it up on my website.

But lately I’ve been more hesitant to do that then I ever was, even during the worst of the riots of the 70s. Partly it’s age. My legs just don’t hold up as long as they used to. Partly it’s opportunity. The job I have doesn’t always keep regular business hours. But mostly now, right now, it is this: It’s going to be very easy going forward, for some armed right wing thug to shoot dead anyone with a camera and claim, even laughingly, that it was self defense. They will absolutely do that to commercial news reporters. Street photographers will absolutely be targets too. In Ferguson they were merely arrested and held in jail for doing their jobs. Now they can be shot. Not by the police, but by friendly white militia.  

I thought it was a gun…I thought it was a gun…I thought it was a gun…hahahahaha…I thought it was a gun…

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