“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
This blog post is about various political events over the last 1-2 years. I would take phone pics or video more than shoot photos, or sometimes none of the above, so this is just what I caught on camera.
The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily represent those of any one else on this group blog.
This is where it started for me, January 10, 2015, a rally to stand in solidarity with the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, an attack on freedom of press, speech, and expression. I felt compelled to join. It was freezing and my feet went numb.
Edit: I guess this wasn’t where it started, I forgot about the protest against the pipeline going under the Rockaways.
But this is when it really started, Bernie Sanders, undeniably a movement to be reckoned with. January 30, 2016, I joined the march from around Union Square to Zuccotti Park. Before this, it was just internet hype for me, and I wasn’t sure how much a town like New York City was paying attention.
Eventually I started seeing Bernie all around town, stickers, graffiti tags, murals, pins, shirts, hats… It was an amazing movement, it was the best of times.
Then it got really real. Bernie’s first NYC rally was up in the Bronx, March 31, 2016. I didn’t know if it was going to be his only NYC rally or not. The line wrapped around for blocks and we couldn’t get in. There was a massive overflow field with a jumbo screen, but then off to the side we noticed they gated out a little area and were making a makeshift podium, so we got right up on those gates, and got front row standing room to see Bernie speak.
After that overflow speech, they let some more people in the main venue, and I got in just in time.
In retrospect, it seems a little crazy how much we idolized Bernie. So many people, from teenagers to seniors, were really freaking out about just being able to see, hear, or touch him. Like him or not, it happened, and it still makes sense to me in so many ways.
April 4, 2016, the folks of Spring/Break Art Fair put together a party they called Bern NY Bern. There was a variety of art, posters, shirts and accessories available, and a cover band playing songs with the word burn in it, with lyrics changed to be about the movement.
Susan Sarandon gave a heartfelt speech.
4 days later, April 8, 2016, Bernie held 2 smaller rallies in Brooklyn, one near his high school, James Madison High School, in Midwood/Flatbush in south Brooklyn, one up north at Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, picture above. I’ll never forget the newsprint poster I saw at the park, showing a young Bernie getting arrested with the word Real in bold. I tried my best to get a poster from the artist, Ryder Ripp, but never got one.
A couple weeks later the traveling art show titled The Art of a Political Revolution came to the Hole gallery. With the work being created alongside what seemed like a mass paradigm shift, it felt like quite a renaissance.
April 19, 2016, the night of the New York primaries was also the night of the GX1000 premiere at Sunshine. That night skateboarding kept it real while democracy did not. Fellow New York skateboard photographer Pep Kim made this shirt.
Around this time when many heated divisive arguments started between friends, it was the worst of times.
A month later at a The Nude Party show at Baby’s All Right.
When the DNC fully stole the candidacy from Bernie, as they have now admitted to in court, I went to back to being Green. Anxious to see Jill Stein speak, I went to a rally where she was just on a screen.
October 12, 2016, there was an official Green Party Rally at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. Robin Laverne Wilson was running for NY State Senator.
Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, victim of police brutality in Staten Island, spoke.
Ajamu Baraka, a veteran grassroots organizer of many movements, was Jill Stein’s running mate, a very eloquent speaker in my opinion.
November 5, 2016, The Standing Rock movement was spreading around the world, protesting against pipelines, excessive force by militarized police, imperial exploitation, systematic racism, and for clean drinking water. I joined the march from 14th st. to 96th st. that started at the Native American Museum, at the bottom of Manna-hata, and ended at the native caves at the northern tip of the island, along the Wickquasgeck Trail, the Lenni-Lenape path that ran the length of the island, now Broadway. This and a number of other protests for Standing Rock throughout the year were also more documented on my phone.
November 9, 2016, the day after the general election, massive protests broke out. I caught the end at the Trump International Hotel And Tower by Columbus Circle.
It felt like much more of a younger student protest, at least towards the midnight hour.
January 21, 2017, the Women’s March in Washington DC.
Standing Rock was there to represent the large role women were playing in the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
January 25, 2017, an emergency rally for Muslim and immigrant rights, at Washington Square park, as the new President signed an executive order to ban travel from 7 Muslim majority countries.
Standing Rock water protectors joined.
The rally marched to Union Square and beyond.
Mony Ty is a water protector I met and started seeing at nearly every Standing Rock protest.
A few days later protests broke out at airports across the country as people were being unconstitutionally detained after arriving on flights, regardless if they were citizens or residents returning home. I couldn’t make it JFK, but I first was hearing about it around noon, and next thing you know it kept going and growing, continuing into the early hours of the morning, and Kevin Hayden told me piping hot pizza was being delivered to the protest at 1am. Without the mass protests and attention, I don’t think there would have been any action to free the unjustly detained.
For a while it seemed like there were protests every day, and now still every week or so. There’s literally one happening right now as i type this. Vote with your feet, vote with in the street. It makes a difference.