Monday, June 1st morning was the first day I went out to the White House in months. I don’t usually spend too much time photographing the iconic residence because honestly, it’s just not in the best location for sunrise/sunsets. That’s it.
But after a weekend of Black Lives Matters protests, riots, and looting, I had to go. I knew the city was going to look very different than it did just a week ago. So I woke up early in the morning to see if I could capture some of the rioting aftermath.
It didn’t take long to find damage. I knew the White House was the epicenter of the weekend so I had planned to drive around until I found something. Turns out, I could have parked my car anywhere around there and see the destruction.
I noticed a lot of people cleaning up the shattered glass of business storefronts and graffiti on walls while other people were making sure it doesn’t happen again by putting up boards over windows.
But going in the morning was not enough. I didn’t want to just create images of the wrecking, I wanted to photograph the protest. I wanted to photograph the people, emotions, and voices of the protest. Later in the afternoon, I found myself driving back into the city.
For the most part, it was peaceful. People chanting “George Floyd,” “I can’t breathe,” and “No Justice, No Peace“. Most seemed determined to have their voices heard, others were there supporting them.
One of the memories that I want to keep in my mind were all the people who were there helping others.
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a face mask as I was rushing out the door thinking about everything else I needed to bring. Almost immediately, I ran into a group of people who were offering water and hand sanitizer. I stopped to ask if they had a mask and they gave me one with no questions or concerns. I asked how I could repay them and they said that they are doing this based on the support of others. They asked for more water or snacks so they can give it to protesters while they protested. I eventually donated money to them via Venmo. But they had medical supplies, phone chargers, even pizza!
So while I was out in the crowd photographing the scenes, I saw quite a few of them walking around offering water and hand sanitizer to people. Most people declined but the ones who received these thoughtful gifts seemed very grateful. I even saw one of them walking around with a bag asking if anyone had trash. There are people out there helping and supporting in so many different ways. This act of generosity and support should not be overlooked.
This was also the first day that DC issued a curfew for 7 pm. Everyone had to be home and out of the street by then or else they’d risk being arrested, having their cars towed, or something else. So I left well before curfew, right when I saw the smoke bombs going off close to the White House.
I returned the next day, Tuesday, June 2nd to the White House. Almost immediately you notice the presence of more police and National Guard. New fences had been set up but thankfully a lot more peaceful than the day before. Even with a larger group of protesters Tuesday seemed to go a lot smoother than the previous day.
On this day, I found most of the protesters along H St NW. I followed them down to 15th, turned the corner, and lost a lot of them at McPherson Square. At that point, I decided to just turn around and go back to the White House.
But even through all the protests, my favorite images to capture are the people who are making connections with others.
I plan on going to the protests as much as I can while they last in Washington DC. This was just my experience in the first two days that I was there. The rioting and looting have decreased a significant amount since the Monday morning I went. I’ll update the blog regularly with the visuals I create but if you have any questions about anything I’ve observed while at these protests, please let me know in the comments below 🙂 ✌️