Westboro Baptist Church

Westboro Baptist Church

 

I photographed the Westboro Baptist Church protesting outside an inclusive church a few weeks ago in the Denver area.  I usually try to share my photos within a few days. But I’ve been processing that morning since then, and I haven’t been able to articulate my thoughts on it. I was surprised by mainly feeling hopeful after shooting it. This was partly because several folks smudged me shortly after I got there. I was also moved by the kindness of the folks supporting the church and the parishioners. And also the nice cops.

I shoot mostly in Denver and DPD officers at these things often have a hostile vibe. But both these guys were what I’ve usually experienced from small town cops. One of the officers started talking about his dad dying in Vietnam and what it was like growing up without him. And how he didn’t fully feel the loss until he himself was a dad. I have no idea now what the segue was that brought it on, but it felt like a gift to have him share it with me.

But mostly I was struck by how the teenagers, while their messages were vile, mostly just seemed like kids. I talked to several of them and most of them were friendly. I know their history of protesting at war veterans’ funerals.  And I can’t imagine trying to bury a loved one while people are shouting obscene, hateful things. But yelling and screaming at people as a form of protest or counter-protest isn’t useful.  I know I’ve never been influenced positively by someone screaming at me.

I guess I expected them to be horrible people. Who else could believe that vile shit? But the truth is I left there feeling that there was hope for them. And I drove off feeling better emotionally than I did when I got there. Maybe love does trump hate.

 

I was struck by the contrast of the hateful signs and her smile and laughter and her genuine friendliness.  And that she was glued to her phone, texting and laughing.

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Posted in Documentary

2017 Resistance

2017 Resistance

 

If you care about human rights, the environment, if you have an inkling of humanity in you, 2017 was a shit year. I have used surreal and absurd more in the last year than in the previous fifty-one combined. I traveled less this year than I have in forever. I spent less time in nature. And I have read less. Turns out electing a fascist president was a lot to process. And resisting fascism is time consuming.

But 2017 was also one of the best years of my life. I met so many incredible human beings in the last year. I volunteered more, cried more, hugged more and I have learned more. I met more people whom I call brother and sister. I have never been more passionate about photography. Or more certain I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to with my work.

I have met people who inspire me. Who make me think. Who challenge me. I learned more about this country. And about my role in it. And sometimes the light has shined so glaringly on my privilege has it has made me squint from too much truth. But the patience and kindness that has greeted me at every turn on this journey can only be described as grace.

I have teared up more than once this year at the beauty and kindness of people I have photographed. People that were facing possible death if the ACA was repealed. People facing deportation who have more of a historic claim to this land than I do. Muslims who are repeatedly the targets of hatred that Trump has fomented. People in communities who have no reason to trust me. But who, over and over again, have shown me more kindness than I had coming.

I knew right after I photographed the protest at DIA last winter in response to Trump’s Muslim ban that this would be my work for the foreseeable future. I’m all in for 2018.

The only worrisome development in all this is that I have become a bit of an extrovert.

Namaste.

 

Protest at Denver International Airport in response to Trump’s travel ban

I have no idea who this lady is. I didn’t speak to her. But her humanity blows my heart open.

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Posted in Documentary

White Supremacy

White Supremacy

 

I photographed the March Against White Supremacy at the Colorado State Capitol on Saturday. There was a guy there heckling the speakers. He’d driven up from the Springs to hold a sign, “It’s okay to be white”.

I didn’t take a photo of him with his sign. I probably should have but it’s just not that interesting to me anymore: the privileged seeing themselves as the persecuted. What does interest me, and inspire me, are people like Rudolph Rudy Gonzales, the director of Servicios de La Raza. I spoke with Rudy for a few minutes at the rally. He compliments me on my photography. This is hard for me to take in in the context of the moment. I mean, here I am, new to the Resistance, and here’s someone who has been fighting for his community forever. And he’s thanking me. It’s humbling.

Marchers gathered against White Supremacy as the Colorado State Capitol.

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Posted in Documentary, Humanitarian

Say Their Names

Say Their Names

 

In the midst of the insanity that is this country, I keep meeting the most beautiful souls. I met one last week while I was shooting the “Say Their Names: Why We Kneel Rally/Vigil/SilentMarch” rally on Saturday.

“What about Black on Black crime?” a guy shouts out in response to protestors chanting, ‘Black Lives Matter.” He keeps repeating that as he walks alongside the marchers in the opposite direction. He seemingly disappears after he hits the end of the line.

He reappears ten minutes later as we enter the amphitheater at Civic Center Park. The protestors aren’t chanting anything at this point, but he is still shouting his refrain. I’ve seen a hundred of these trolls so I know better than to engage. Or not. He walks by, a few feet from me, still stuck on his mantra. I say, “Dude, it’s about the same as White on White crime. Which is about the same as Asian on Asian crime…” He mutters and walks on.

A young man I’d noticed earlier during the protest approaches me. “What did you say to him?” I recount our exchange, and I mutter something about him being an ignorant racist. He says, “I just want to know why he thinks what he thinks.” No judgement, just a genuine curiosity to learn more. And upbeat about it. I’m like, ‘Good luck with that.” He heads after the guy.

I see him return about ten minutes later, as the protest is breaking up, and ask how it went. He explains he had a nice talk with him. Turns out his life has been hard and he’d just gotten out of jail. He had no idea that the march was commemorating people killed by the police. He explained to him that several of the people marching had lost a child to a police shooting. He had no idea. He asked him to apologize to them for him. He thanked him for the sentiment but tells him that’s up to him to do. They part amicably.

We talk for a bit more about photography and the state of this country. Turns out he’s a reporter with Metro State’s paper. I can’t help but think he’s probably a great reporter.

I ask him if I can make a photo. He agrees. I take a few quick photos. We start walking off in opposite directions, he turns and says, “Stay in your heart.”

I normally have a visceral reaction to unsolicited advice. Not this time. This feels more like a prayer or a blessing. Thank you, Mimi. I’ll try.

Posted in Documentary, Humanitarian

Handmaids

Handmaids

Thursday afternoon a hundred Handmaids (inspired by Margaret Atwood’s prescient book) greeted VP Pence as he arrived at the DTC Marriott. The Handmaids were visually and metaphorically powerful, and it was incredible to be able to photograph the protest. But I was most struck by the quiet fierceness of these women.

I read Margaret Atwood’s book when it first came out in 1985.  I was shaken when I turned the last page.  I never thought we would be entering the world she imagined with such transparent maneuvering.  #Resist

Thank you to the Indivisible warriors who created this protest.  If you’re looking for a no drama Indivisible group in Colorado, Indivisible Front Range Resistance is my Indivisible family.

5280 Magazine had the best coverage of the protest.  And some cool photos : )

 

Handmaids walking from the Lightrail station to the Marriott where VP Pence was holding a fundraiser.

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Posted in Documentary, Humanitarian

DACA

DACA

 

Yesterday morning students in the Denver metro area walked out of class in support of their DACA friends.

I have started and stopped writing this post a dozen times. Each attempt has turned into an angry rant. It’s infuriating that any caring human being could defend rescinding DACA. Mostly, it’s just heartbreaking. Imagine that the only country you have known, tells you to start “arranging your departure.”. Every single person I know who is a DACA recipient is a courageous, intelligent, thoughtful human being. They are everything the president is not. It’s heartbreaking that these children and young adults, who have lived most of their lives in this country, face being deported to a place most don’t even know.

Senator Cory Gardner came out in support of the Dream Act. His silence before yesterday afternoon is telling as far as where his heart lies. But his co-sponsoring of the Dream Act demonstrates that all those call, emails, and faxes to his office worked. Keep calling! Demand that the Dream Act get a clean vote. Tying it to the border wall is not tenable or humane. Keep calling both your Dem and GOP reps. The failure to pass immigration reform is a bipartisan debacle. Not excusing that turd in the White House, but Dems have repeatedly failed to step up and get this done. While you’re at it, call Bernie Sanders and let him know he can make amends for voting against immigration reform in 2007. Thank you.

My DACA and undocumented friends and immigration attorney friends, please let me know if I can help with my photography. An immigration attorney friend told me that having family photos does impact immigration judges in their decision. I’m willing to travel anywhere in Colorado, Northern NM and Wyoming to do this. No charge.

If you’re looking for a way to tangibly help DACA and undocumented Americans, please consider donating to the Rocky Mountain Immigration Advocacy Network (RMIAN). They are an incredible organization.

East High School students marching in support of DACA recipients.

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Posted in Documentary, Humanitarian

Charlottesville

Charlottesville

 

A few of my fave photos from the anti-racist march in Denver in response to the racist attacks of peaceful protestors in Charlottesville.

Lots of somber and depressing thoughts bouncing around in my head about the events in Charlottesville, and the president’s seeming endorsement of those crimes. But what I’m really feeling as I look through these photos is an immense amount of gratitude for all the incredible people I’ve met since we elected that fascist. I’d list you all but I’d forget someone. I just want to say I see you and I love you.

Several thousand gathered to peacefully rally in support of Charlottesville.

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Posted in Uncategorized

One Thousand Ministers March

One Thousand Ministers March for Justice

My heart was blown open by the love and kindness and the fierce resolve that I witnessed at the One Thousand Ministers March for Justice.   And getting to experience all this in the company of one of the heroes of the Resistance? I’ll treasure that one for a long time.  Thank you, Rev. Tyler.

The One Thousand Ministers March for Justice came on the 54th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  We marched in the wake of the insanity of a president who seemingly condoned the racist actions of the nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville.  His disgusting comments about “not destroying our heritage” and “erasing history” and “Bad behavior on many sides. Many sides”. His rhetoric since he started his campaign has normalized and given permission to the racist cockroaches to come out into the light of day.  We’re so far past the dog whistles of the GOP of old and full steaming ahead into fascism and blatant racism.  And yet into this environment, marchers, many who have been fighting for equality since they marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and have to be exhausted by the insanity, prayerfully and peacefully marched for a better America.

I experienced at least a dozen moments of the beauty of humanity during the day. Here’s just one. As the march approached it’s destination at the Justice Department, I raced towards a planter that would give me some elevation for what I thought would be a cool image of the entire march. I saw a photographer clamber up, but still room for one more. But just as I got there, another photographer vaulted up. No plan B, so I just shrugged. The last photographer up, forgoing what I knew was a cool shot, reached down to pull me up.  The other photographer joined in, hoisting me up.  In the running world, this would be the equivalent of stopping your race to help a runner who fell in front of you. Namaste.

 

One of my fave photos of the day. The One Thousand Ministers March for Justice marching past the Washington Monument.

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Posted in Documentary, Humanitarian

Denver Peace Rally

Denver Peace Rally

As I photograph more and more rallies and protests and marches, I am struck by the thoughtful, kind, and diverse group of people I meet. I am not just photographing the Resistance. I’m also here as a witness. And as I looked around yesterday, I was struck by how many people I was photographing that I love. It’s a gift to see each one of you.  Thank you for showing up again and again.  Thank you for resisting.  You blow my heart open.

 

I still haven’t seen the elusive paid protestor. I keep hearing about him. But, after photographing almost a hundred of these, from Standing Rock to dozens of protests in Denver, I haven’t seen one yet. I’ll keep you posted. What I do see are amazing, kind, thoughtful folks who care deeply about humanity.

 

Denver shows up in support of peace.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Atlantis ADAPT

Atlantis ADAPT

 

On the eve of the GOP’s last gasp attempt to repeal Obamacare (and replace it with…well, who knows what they were going to replace it with.  If they replaced it, at all.), protestors from Atlantis ADAPT gathered outside Gardner’s office to demand he “kill the bill, don’t kill us.”

 

Sarah Metsch from Atlantis ADAPT leading the march around Senator Gardner’s office protesting his callous disregard for people with disabilities.

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Posted in Documentary, Humanitarian, Uncategorized