I was visiting Bristol during the middle of April, soon after the US lead coalition strikes on suspected chemical weapons plants in Syria. A protest was organized for one of the days I was there. Word got to Patri via friends and we also saw the details spray painted in a tunnel filled with street art. It had been months since I’d intentionally gone to a protest, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I spent last year photographing the resistance in DC and I loved documenting individuals in protests and the energy of people standing up for something they are passionate about. It was a little weird attending one in a different country and in a city I didn’t know, but it felt very much the same. Here are my images from that day.
To say the least, 2016 has been a rough year for the world on many fronts. Throughout this crazy year though, I was lucky enough to be witness to a lot of love. Five different friends, from all different parts of my life got married this year. As 2016 comes to a close, I want to look back on the good as I prepare for a new year.
Happy New Year everyone, and here's to love.
The day after the close of the Democratic National Convention, which had left me tired and feeling more pessimistic than usual, I learned that Hillary was having a rally fairly close to where I was staying with my sister. So I hopped on the train and went. It was a great experience. Here were the supporters I had been missing during the convention. Here was a real cross section of the US. And also, here was lots of hopeful, positive energy. I needed it.
Other than the fact that I had my knitting in my purse and the security guards would not let them in, which I don't blame them for (I left my knitting with organizers just outside the door), I had no trouble getting in. I most enjoyed the people-watching. There was such a diverse turnout. So many women, lots of young girls. People of all religions, colors, orientations and backgrounds. The melting pot of America, I loved it. I took as many pictures of the audience as I could, finding wonderful subjects. It was also a neat experience to get to see Hillary and Tim, and hear them speak.
After the RNC in Cleveland I thought the DNC in Philly would be a breeze. It turned out to be much harder on me than the RNC though. A breeze would have been nice for a start. It was amazingly hot and more importantly incredibly humid. Just stepping outside got beads of sweat rolling down your temples, let alone trying to walk around the city and photograph. The weather drained any energy you might have had.
Then there were the protesters. In Cleveland there had been a variety, from left and right and everything in between. There seemed to be only one kind in Philly: Bernie or Bust folks. And they were spewing just as much hate towards Hillary as the right had in Cleveland. Most were advocating for Bernie or another third party candidate. It was even harder to be around this than even the Trump supporters in Cleveland, when these protesters in Philly generally shared similar world views as me, or were in other words liberally minded as well.
I know they are angry with a broken system, which is amazingly valid, but they seemed to be forgetting every US History class that covered an election. Since, for all intents and purposes, we do have a two party system, any time a third party candidate has played a part it has undermined the side of the political spectrum they fall on. You can't fix a flawed system from the top down, and definitely not in one or two election cycles. I wish these people would take their passion to the local, then state, then federal level. Electing officials from the ground up. Voting for a third party candidate this presidential election, or by simply not voting at all, will hand this election to Trump. And that quite frankly terrifies me. I'm not even saying Hillary is the "lesser of two evils" as so many have. I think she is a hugely qualified public servant, who has always worked for women's rights which I hold quite dear, and I think her world views are similar to mine. Whereas Trump could not be further away from those views.
I had meant to simply document the convention, and not give much of my personal political views, but I felt this gave context to my photos. That is all my opinions are there for, context, not to start a debate. By the end of the convention I had turned my camera on the city of Philly instead of the protesters, because I simply didn't have the energy, both physical and mental, to deal with them. My next post will be those photos of the city and it's people.
The RNC came to Cleveland, so I went home to document. I was fearful, along with the majority of Cleveland and perhaps the nation, that this could turn disastrous and violent. With the history of violence at Trump rallies, and the ever more heated battle of this election cycle it seemed too easy for a spark to ignite in Cleveland. I am happy to report though that Cleveland still stands and the protests there were, on the whole, peaceful.
Experiencing a convention in my hometown was fascinating. I loved seeing people being able to voice their opinions and grievances, and it seemed that protesters hailed from all parts of the political spectrum. There were Trump supporters, gun supporters, women's rights groups, Muslim activists, anarchists, anti-Trump protesters, anti-police brutality protesters, pro-capitalist supports, even satirical protesters with signs like "God Hates Signs." There were people from all walks of life, and they all converged on Public Square.
Also with a hugely significant presence were the media, and law enforcement. Of all the people out in downtown Cleveland, about a third were protesters and the general public, and then easily a third were the media, and the last third was law enforcement.
Overall, while there was a lot of anger from all different sides, there seemed to be more calls for love, understanding and acceptance than anything else. While there were a lot of protests, there was also a lot of great human things going on. People playing ping pong on Public Square. A man making bubbles which turned adults into smiling wide-eyed children-at-heart. A band playing on the side of the street. A woman hugging police officers. A dance troupe which performed on the grass with huge bird puppets flying in the wind.
I came away from the week feeling surprisingly positive. I had seen our first amendment rights in action, and it had been peaceful. I felt proud of Cleveland and all the people who protested, especially for those who took a stand for love.
kaitlin k walsh
Adventurer armed with a camera.