Documentary: Protests

These photos were taken between 2016-2020 during the tumultuous aftermath of the 2016 election. I was recruited into Rise and Resist as a documentary photographer, and from there ended up covering dozens of rallies organised by splinter resistance groups in the city. To be honest, with the onslaught of other photographers at these rallies, I didn’t get any press coverage – these rallies were photographed as a result of my own curiosity and the knowledge these would eventually be historically important images.

Wanting to cover the entire gamut of protesting in NYC during this time, I documented everything from BLM to a protest against Ben Carson ringing the NYSE bell, to a Standing Rock rally, to a New Orleans Jazz Funeral for American Democracy. I even pretended to be a British tourist at one point and broke into a couple of Trump rallies. I’ve been thrown out of Trump Tower multiple times, raided the Macy’s makeup counter with a couple hundred gender-bending activists, marched in Pride and the Mermaid Parade twice as a photographer with activist groups, got harassed by cops, hopped a fence with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, and met fascinating figures like Rev. Billy Talen, Michael Stipe, Jim Fouratt, Gabrielle Carteris, Rollerena, Jerry Saltz, Marilyn Minter, and dozens more. I also ended up documenting plenty of New York’s activist circles. Act UP, Rise and Resist, Gays Against Guns, Refuse Fascism, I photographed them all, made dozens of friends, and learned so much from all of them.

Now that I have the luxury of some hindsight, I can say that while it was all very exciting and even great fun, I did get nervous after a while when the right wingers started doxxing photographers. After witnessing a few violent skirmishes and finding out a notoriously combative red hat was trying to identify me, I decided to call it a day and hop more into live music and portrait photography.

The last protest I photographed was in the summer of 2020. I avoided ALL of the violent protests that erupted in the city, worrying for the safety and sanity of many of my friends, and also feeling a great ennui about it all. I’d seen so many, so little was accomplished. Maybe looting a store would do something; probably not. My last protest was a BLM vigil in Astoria Park, with hundreds of masked protestors hitting nerve after raw nerve.

I’m grateful for the fortitude, insight and opportunity to record this frankly insane period of American history.