Isaac Oil

Lori Martin of Pensacola, Florida gave permission to publish this photo she took of oil that washed up on the beach at Fort Morgan, Alabama following Hurricane Isaac’s landfall.

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Was John Lewis Denied Right to Speak at Occupy Atlanta?

There have been a number of tweets saying that John Lewis was denied the right to speak at the Oct. 7 General Assembly at Woodruff Park in Atlanta. In order to clarify what occurred here is an excerpt of recordings made during the meeting in which this was discussed.

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Occupy Atlanta General Assembly

full size

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Atlanta Protest In Support of Egyptian People

A protest was held on Saturday January 29, 2011 in front of CNN headquarters in Atlanta. The protest was in favor of the Egyptian people and pointed squarely at American support of Mubarak’s regime over the past 30 years, as well as support of other dictatorial regimes. Sameh Abdelaziz, one of the organizers of the protest, called on President Obama to stay true to American democratic values. Here are some images from the protest.

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Tea Party Women

In this series from the September 12, 2010 march on Washington we look at the Tea Party women. The themes here are varied and reflect the many causes represented such as the effect of spending on future generations, abortion, and unemployment. Click the images to see the larger versions.

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Twelve Angry Men 9/12/2010

On September 12, 2010 I photographed the 912 rally in Washington DC. In the next few articles I will post images from this event. In analyzing the images I see many dimensions or perspectives, such as constitutional principles, abortion, taxes, and immigration. Men and women were about equally represented at the event, and they all appeared to be well fed. Here we have twelve men who appear to have come to Washington with a mission: to right the injustices they are suffering at the hands of their elected representatives.

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I Am the Tea Party Leader – February 27, 2010

This rally was held on February 27, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia, shortly after some
references were made about the leadership of the Tea Party. The speakers at this rally
went to great lengths to stress that the Tea Party has no leaders. They filmed
participants saying “I am the Tea Party leader.”

Several years of white flight has made downtown Atlanta a place feared by many suburbanites, so it is interesting to see what kind of crowd shows up when the target audience is middle class white folks from the exurbs and the protest location is the state capitol in downtown Atlanta. A variety of signs were seen expressing points of view on a number of issues, mostly having to do with healthcare and taxes, and nothing was overtly racist. The oddest thing was the number of references made to venereal diseases and other unpleasant health problems and their association with elected officials.

An older couple walk enroute to the Georgia State Capitol to participate in a Tea Party rally. They are holding hands and the man carries the Decatur Flag.

Stroll to the protest

Some things you see at a protest are impossible to photograph and get the nuance. I observed a group standing around looking at a photo of Obama with his feet on the
presidential desk in the Oval Office, smiling and chatting with someone. “Just look at him!” one scowled. “That desk is over 200 years old and he’s got his feet on it!”.
Another chimed in, “You notice how he is showing the soles of his shoes to those people? To Muslims that’s a sign of disrespect.”

A couple attends the Tea Party rally with their dog. The lady is wearing sunglasses.

Muffin was not amused

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Brotherhood March II and Counter-Protest

Forsyth County, Georgia January 24, 1987

Brotherhood March II was held on January 24, 1987. The first march on January 17 involved only a handful of marchers and was met by counter-protesters who threw rocks and bottles, injuring some of the marchers. Brotherhood March II was a response to the counter-protest and attracted some 20,000 marchers from across the country. Forsyth County had been all white since the year 1912 when the black population left under threat of violence following a racially charged trial.
Man near King Center in Atlanta holds one of the signs he is selling with caption Black By Popular Demand

Marchers board one of 200 buses

Man holds shirt with caption I Spent the Night in Forsyth County 1987

I was at the King Center the morning of Brotherhood March II and had planned to ride on one of the buses to participate. I took several photos at the King Center and nearby. When they announced that the turnout was much larger than anticipated and that they wouldn’t have enough buses to accommodate all of the marchers, I left in my car and drove to Cumming, Georgia where the march was to be held. As I drove up the highway I started to see Georgia State Troopers posted on the overpasses along the route.

Georgia National Guard troops in front of sign that says Welcome to Cumming

A woman looks at a book on a table with sign that say Race Mixing Is Wrong

Man in Knights of the Ku Klux Klan costume

Man holding Confederate flag

Counter-protesters watching marchers

Counter-protest march through Cumming, Georgia

Man holding Confederate flag, sign, and wearing hat that says Keep Forsyth White

When I arrived in Cumming I drove into downtown where a counter-protest was being held. I had a tape recorder and two still cameras. I parked the car, started the recorder, and started photographing the counter-protesters. There were representatives from a number of national white supremacist groups at the counter-protest, including David Duke and Don Black. Black was an understudy of David Duke during his Knights of the Ku Klux Klan years, later becoming Grand Dragon of that organization. He served prison time when his plan to overthrow the government of Dominica was thwarted. Black founded the website Stormfront in 1995.
Don Black and David Duke

After leaving the counter-protest I drove over to the parking area for the Botherhood March II marchers and joined that march. I recorded the speeches made at this march and photographed many of the marchers.

The photographs and recordings accompanying this article have never before been released. The similarities between what was happening then and what is occurring now with respect to treatment of Muslims, gays, and other groups should be apparent. Currently in the United States the animosity is approaching the levels seen in the 1970s and 1980s. If unchecked there is a high probability the tension and risk of violence will escalate to levels seen in the 1950s and 1960s. The conservative voices of restraint have grown silent.

This post is dedicated to Hosea Williams. Consider donating to Hosea Feed the Hungry.

J Michael
October 1, 2010

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Faces of Protest Project Launched

During a recent review of some archived images I came across a set of photographs I made several years ago of a protest march and counter-protest that took place in Forsyth County, Georgia. I’ll write more about that particular protest in a later article, but I was struck by the similarity between the nature of the protest then, and what we have been seeing with respect to the anti-immigration and anti-islamic tone that has been dominating the media and public discourse of late. The messages on the protest signs followed similar themes then as they do now. My interest in exploring these themes has given rise to this current project, Faces of Protest. The faces of protest are those of individuals who feel strongly enough about a cause to organize, debate online, and travel to protest sites, often at great inconvenience and expense, in order to make their voices heard.

I’m sure some feel strongly about their cause, some somewhat so, while others may just be looking for entertainment. No doubt some attend merely to shake things up, to cause trouble if they can. The leaders have various motivations as well. Some may be looking to build a power base from which to launch a political campaign, while others may be seeking to effect change on a specific issue like their supporters. More often than not, it takes political action to achieve the desired result. Often the protest is in support of many complex issues under one large umbrella, such as with the Tea Party movement. The participants may have a number of hot buttons which the leaders can target by generalizing the cause under some broad heading such as “conservative” or “pro-Constitutional”, or labeling those they envision as their enemies with some broad brush labels such as “liberals”, “fascists”, “racists”, and “socialists” so the entire membership feels a camaraderie against their common enemy. A supporter may individually feel strongly about a single hot button issue such as illegal immigration, while not feeling strongly about another such as healthcare reform. They may go along with the positions about which others feel strongly as long as their issue gets the attention or support they think it deserves.

Although I’m interested in the expression of protest in images, I often wonder what brought on the ontology that gave birth to the expression – what events, education, discussion, and thought brought the individual to the protest. Learning this would require more in-depth discussion with individual participants, something I hope to have the opportunity to do.

I’ll close this first article with an image from my Forsyth County protest coverage which I think is apropos to the current anti-Obama protests which we have seen lately.

Counter-protesters at Freedom March II in Forsyth County, Georgia. January 24, 1987.

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