It Was Meant to be Peaceful
Until it wasn't . . . What began as a peaceful protest at the news of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin ended for some in being arrested. For nothing less than being in the crowd. An earlier rally and march in Harlem passed peacefully. As did the march from Union Sq to Times Sq but at some time the NYPD decided enough was enough. That point came at the intersection of Park Ave and 71st, and again at 79th and Second Ave when the wall of NYPD stopped the crowd and reached in to take their pick. A snatch and grab. The photos here are straight out of camera, some as blurry as all hell but that's camera shake for you - the shake of the shock that this should suddenly be happening. The shake of the shock that these kids standing next to me did nothing wrong. The shock that this could be me getting arrested and if so easily for others, why not me? I have photos of the protest which brought traffic to a standstill in Times Sq, and on Fifth Ave and everywhere else but they don't come with the sounds of horns being honked, and honked, in support for what was the peaceful protest seeking justice for the death of Trayvon Martin.
Chilling and frustrating. Thanks for being there, though.
Thank you Alison, all quiet in Sanford from what I hear!
Glad you made it out safe Patti – and I feel for the protestors who got plucked from the crowd – with luck they will also return home relatively unscathed. We seem to be lurching between one catastrophe after another and often at the hands of a few – who presume greatness but appear to lack courage and common sense. Your images speak a thousand words. Good luck.
It all happened so quickly, after miles of peaceful walking, NYPD walking along at the sides and front when they suddenly turned! Thank you Veronica for your supportive words!
Shame it had to end badly because that is what will be remembered by those not present at the beginning .
Excellent post and frightening. Courageous of you to photograph the police. What is happening in this country? Your photographs are valuable to see.
Will anything change I wonder? I want to think so – even if it does take a long time, thank you Ruth!
The right to protest without fear is, I feel, a base line, essential right. The USA has always felt like a place where this right can be practised. These very brave pictures show another side that perhaps occurs more regularly but is not shared beyond the streets, which if so leaves even more question marks at the feet of The Media. How things are changing though with info being shared the way it is nowdays! Another thing that I am finding we are having tp protest about to protect. Ehat an experience Patti. Glad you came out of it in one piece and good on you for taking and publishing. I sm not sure if I would have been as brave.
Too many parents are upset, what with Stop and Frisk, the repeal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and now the acquittal. So many parents with young children were out yesterday, we all live in the hope that our children will outlive us. Yes, we share so much more info than ever but seeing so many people together, sharing so much of the emotion does so much in strengthening the community – which no tv soundbite will ever be able to do. And yes, MBL, I am sure you would have been fine out there!
These protests — and the official response to them — will surely become stories in themselves. Quite a few other photographers are visible in several of your shots, so there will be no shortage of evidence. I guess, from the city’s point of view, past protests of jury verdicts have resulted in looting and violence. Very likely, the explanation for the police actions in Manhattan will be that they were trying to prevent such widespread destruction. But next will come the protests against that. Be safe out there, Patti.
Charles, I know exactly what you mean but I can honestly say there was never the threat of violence and looting taking place during this march. Perhaps I am hugely naive but the thought, at the time, never occurred to me until later and still I think, no, that wasn’t going to happen. There was too much goodwill out there and by God I hope it stays that way! The original intention of the march was to go from Times Sq through Central Park to Harlem but NYPD blocks etc routed it up 5th and across to Park Ave where it broke out at 71st St when the NYPD stopped and turned. Perhaps the Koch brothers were at home after all and rang 311 to complain!
It sure seems a strange verdict. An unarmed teenager gets killed by a large burly man with a gun. Here in Australia we had an unarmed Brazilian student being tazered to death by hordes of police chasing him for ‘reportedly’ having stolen a packet of biscuits.
In Courts people get law but not always justice.
Good photos and hopefully they will provoke people into peaceful action even more.
Apparently George Zimmerman has yet to be seen in public. His brother explained he could well be the target of vigilantes who take the law into their own hands. Maybe his parents, who are thanking everyone for their prayers etc, have grounded him.
alarming… i think your camera saved you
My camera . . . what I wouldn’t give for a faster lens!
Courageous shots, PK. I read a few days ago where a woman in Florida (I think it was) has been sentenced to 20 years jail for firing warning shots in her home to stop an abusive partner from becoming more abusive. 20 years jail and she didn’t kill anybody! Nor was she trying to kill anybody. I can’t fathom it. It seems so utterly wrong.
So how come Stand your Ground didn’t help her I wonder? Off to explore google . . . .
Oh dear, how awful Patti. You ARE very lucky you didn’t get arrested. It is the first thing I thought when I realized you were in the thick of it. Sigh. Margie
Thank you Margie but had I been arrested I should not have had to worry so much about disturbing a sleeping Mr Kuche when I finally made it home. He gets very upset when his sleep is disturbed.
Wow! You really could have ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time! Glad you are okay!
Well it certainly would have been an experience – not that I am going to push my luck, thank you Margie for your kind thoughts!
Pictures as usual are gripping. Hope you made it out okay without interference from the PD or demonstrators. I heard the verdict and am conflicted. Maybe Z justified but a life is worth something.
Made it out fine thank you Tom. I’m trying very hard to understand Zimmerman’s thought processes, poor decisions and possession of a gun which he used in taking the life of an unarmed black teenager . . .
Glad you got out OK, Patti. Great post – the shots are gripping and immediate – shame it had to happen that way – last time I checked being in a crowd did not count as an offence. Did the police just get bored?
Thank you Richard. Perhaps the NYPD decided it was time to show some muscle, who’s boss!
There but for the Grace of God…..you are one brave lady! My prayers are with the Martin family.
Thank you so much Annie . ..
What a mess.
Says it all!
Patti! The explosion of emotions leaps from the screen. Wonderful images! Glad you are ok!
At the same time this was happening, pepper spray was used in another part of the crowd! This link from the Gothamist has video footage.
The NYPD is very unpredictable at these demonstrations and it pains me to say it but the majority opinion among them is that “the wanna be cop” was within his rights ;-( I’m hopeful that the Martin family will get some satisfaction at the civil trial… glad to see that you did not meet the profile of the ones they busted …
For some reason I always had the idea that “wannabe cops” were a pain in the neck for the real cops! I share your hopes for the Martin family. . . .
on some level yes they don’t think much of them (wannabe cops) but like many on the wrong side of this issue he is a handy poster boy …
Brave stuff Patti and great journalism! The Police in the UK used snatch squads during the Miners strike and got pilloried for it. Tactics in the UK have changed a bit since then. Kettling is the current favourite where they box people in and allow boredom to grind down any hostility. Of course, any parents with young children caught up in the kettle just have to suffer with the rest 😦 The guy with his baton drawn was certainly eyeing you up but may have been put off by other cameras in the near vicinity that could have recorded his actions – extreme right of the shot.
Kettling tends not to happen here where the priority is to get everyone out of the way, clear the roads and get the traffic moving, or not, asap. Divide and conquer also helps but I cannot stress enough how resilient the protestors were to provocations when the aim of the march was one of peace and justice.
I keep meaning to mention – the people in the green caps are Legal Observers, from the National Lawyers Guild. They do a wonderful job!
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I’ve set a link to you at
are the race riots of the sixties coming back?
Frizz, I have to hope and believe that the race riots of the sixties are not coming back . . . . . .
An interesting discussion is taking place with the suggestion that NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly might be a good candidate to run Homeland Security. He endorsed the Stop and Frisk policy. This from the Washington Post . . .
Though it will probably have been hard to be in there with a camera.
I recently ended up in the protests in Istanbul and could also take some pictures – if you didn’t see them you can find them here – http://rabirius.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/protest/ – and after I later read how many people who took pictures ended up in prison I guess I was lucky…
…and so I especially admire your courage.
So pleased you came of the Istanbul trauma in one peace Rabirius – what with the tear gas and other heavy police action. I have seen a few photographers get arrested in the OWS protests, serious photographers and film makers with all the heavy kit, get bundled, cuffed and taken away . . . You take care and thank you so much for your kind thoughts!
With whatever lens, you captured strong emotions and you (bravely) got close enough to convey the chaos and what’s-going-to-happen-next feeling that takes hold when these events take on a life of their own. Glad it didn’t spin too far out of control.
Lyn, it all happened right in front of me – the boy in the first shot was plucked from over my right shoulder – “Get him!” Cliched but true it all happened so quickly and yes, so grateful that it didn’t spin out of control.
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I’ve set a fresh link to your articles at
I remembered your visit in DETROIT…
Thank you Frizz, have just put up another Detroit post!
Very good document on what was going on. Blurring, just adds the extra punch. Very good, but not peaceful.
“Extra punch” says it all, thank you Bente!
Great shots, but it makes me wonder: Why are there no riots when black people kill white people and get away with it? I guess these “race-riots” is a great way for the administration to get the focus off such things as the surveillance scandals that the US has seen lately. Make the people fight each other instead of fighting the government.
Wow. These are really quite brutal in a way. Raw and heartbreaking. It really is amazing that you can be grabbed and arrested for just being there. Such a frenetic world we live in.
Fabulous – and spunky – captures of this sinister display of power Patti.
We look to the West, particularly the US with hope, but things aren’t really very different anywhere are they?
These images are so compelling. You really need to do a book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!