Civil Disobedience

We all know the state of affairs In the U.S. today with our government being shutdown, people losing their jobs and homes left and right, and politicians doing nothing but laying the blame for this whole mess on each other. As I have said before, I live near our nations capitol. Yesterday while on an estimate for my business, I heard on the radio that there was a protest going on at the capitol building for immigration reform. Since I was only a few minutes outside the city and had my gear, I decided to head downtown try and capture a bit of what was going on. When I got to the capitol, I saw what seem to be a large crowd in a circle. As I got closer I realized that it wasn’t a circle but a line of protesters on the capitol grounds, capitol police in the middle, and the rest of the crowd on the other side. I was on the other side trying to get a shot of what was going on, but I was about five people back from where the police were and it was almost impossible to get anything with all those heads in the way. I was very frustrated at first but then decided to be patient and take in this protest to get a sense of what was going on. With protests like these I usually talk to people to gauge the reasons why they came and what they are trying to say, but since it was late I was worried that the whole thing would end without me even getting a one photo. So I used a backup plan that has served me well in similar situations. Listen. I just listened. Sometimes just listening to the voices around you can get a perspective of the reality of your surroundings. I let my brain filter out the noise and dial in on the peoples voices who had something to say on the matter, whether it be left, right, or in the middle all the while keeping my gaze forward to search for the next available spot to get a clear shot with my camera. A man to my rear right on a bullhorn shouting in spanish. A man to my immediate right talking into a handheld recorder about education and the dream act. a woman to my left asking the police holding us back what was going and upon getting an explanation, expressing her disdain for the entire situation. A young girl on my immediate right nearly blowing out my eardrum screaming in support of a friend on the other side of the street.

All of these voices kept going on and on as I inched my way to the front of the line. Finally I saw an opening and I just lunged forward to take my place in front. When I got there I quickly realized that this wasn’t just a protest, it was a civil disobedience. The people on the other side of the street were actually on government property and were asked to leave. They refused and chanted until the police quietly removed them one by one, tying their hands behind their back and escorted them to a waiting police wagon at the far end of the street. A lot of people were arrested. Young, old, black, white, and all shades in between. Afterwords I hung about the area, grabbed a few more shots, and got in my car for the long journey home. As I was fighting the D.C. traffic to get home, I was listening to the local reporters on the radio describe the same event that I had just left. It made me think about how in some countries civil disobedience is not just illegal, but a death sentence. It also made me grateful that I live in a place where no matter how bad things get in your life or for those around you, one can still make a stand right or wrong and the worst reprisal is someone else’s opinion. That or maybe a few strong words on how you were out too long with your camera and late for dinner.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/500 @ f/3.2

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