PLAINFIELD, NJ — Brian Branch has covered many protests over the last three decades and none have been like the recent George Floyd protests that have been occurring. Floyd’s death has awakened the world to oppression by others and not on the local level but globally as well. These are his words.
My coverage began for Zuma Press, (photo agency) on May 29th at Foley Square in New York. The demonstrators were far from peaceful, very intense and constant face-offs with the police. Here we are going into week three with no sign of slowing.
As a photojournalist I cover what unfolds before me, especially during these “Floyd” protests. But it’s not a one or two day-story. It has unfolded into issue reporting or Reportage, we call it, and has further evolved to a documentary.
Most of my coverage has been in the City but I have worked the Jersey angle as well. And one can see a difference in the volume of demonstrators as well as the intensity.
In New York, they didn’t keep still for more than a few moments they kept moving and serpentining throughout the city. Groups would merge and split. Tactics not seen before. The organizers kept all at bay.
But all seem to have common thought of expression. Such as FCP, ACAB, Black Lives Matter, We Stand with BLM, hands up don’t shoot, I can’t breathe, and so on.
I began to put the camera to the side and read the signs folks were carrying. They all had a story to tell. So I pulled them aside and asked one question “Why are you here.” Some responses were F12, or, I want to listen and learn, I’m here to support BLM, When I asked One woman why she was marching she was here for George Floyd and began to cry as she relived the visual of his death.
So I began to pull the marchers aside and do portraits of them to isolate them from the crowd so their voices would amplify.
But again as I go back to the issue of Floyd’s death it is important to show conflict with the police and demonstrators. Because that visual Woke America up to the humanistic suffering or oppression that goes on in America and around the world such as the Middle East, Brazil, China.
The Minneapolis police department practice has changed the way they do policing , Seattle Washington, shut down the capitol area, Virginia has seen confederate statutes brought down. Gianna Floyd said it best “My daddy changed the world.”
Probably even more so than Mandela, or King, or Malcom.
As stated earlier this is not a one-day story; nor is it just one issue. It’s a whole movement! And I hope I can keep up and report on the issues as they appear.
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