We Dissent

-- Protest against the war in Iraq, Bloomington, Indiana. 2003

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I’ve photographed many protests over the years. But, often, I wonder how effective some really are. I also wonder what kind of country, what kind of world we’d live in if people of all sorts of political persuasions didn’t speak out, didn’t dissent – when they disagree with something.

Which reminds me of one the day when I was out in D.C. where some of these photos were taken. It was during April 2000, a day that thousands of anti-globalization protesters would protest the IMF and the World Bank’s practices in third world countries around the world.

I was walking along the street when an anarchist asked me who I was and where my credentials were. Some others were screaming, “Corporate Media Go Home.”

This kid had just profiled me and now I was being told I wasn’t welcome to do my work. I protested telling the kid I had a right to do my job and I wasn’t who he thought I was. He finally backed off and even apologized.

Later at the protest, helicopters buzzed overhead. Somehow, the IMF delegates slipped past more than 10,000 mostly peaceful protesters. Soon it was raining.

The nearby contingent of black bloc anarchists clashed with the police. In the chaos, police would later club an Associated Press photographer to the ground and leave him to bleed onto the pavement.

I definitely don’t create these images because I am a protester or an activist – I am a journalist in this pursuit. These people and others whose political point of view might not be represented in these images have a right to do so. Their right to protest is protected by the First Amendment.