I tried to be clever. Documenting with an unbiased eye. Weaving in and out of crowds colored with energy. Meeting new faces. Shaking a few hands. Cheering with punches thrown lively into the air. Standing in solidarity with Feminists, Gay Rights activist, Black Lives Matter protestors and Latinos that flat out, wanted this man gone. You could not have painted a better picture. And to be honest, we really didn’t need a better one. It was beautiful.
But… I wanted to capture both sides of the party and it felt like the ludicrousness of what is “trump” was severely left up to the vendors to promote. They were salesmen of every color and age. With convictions reserved, monetary gain was king. Trump solicits the type of crowd that welcomed aggressively designed rhetoric (see Hillary shirts). Progressive thinking has never been a Republican thing (jab!)
Part of me expected to witness more effort to dispute what a protestor was there to fight, yet I didn’t see that. Another part of me felt like Toledo, Ohio, a town of less that 300k and working- class to the gristle, couldn’t risk the 6 degrees we share with each other. Someone knows you. Someone sees you and all of a sudden, you have more than beliefs to defend. You have family to explain to. Long time friends that will now look at you differently. Social media created a circle that is not exclusive to privacy. It’s very in your face and has dissolved relationships in microseconds with irreparable damage. I think we are very aware of that and as civil as we’d like life to be, a shared viewpoint on facebook can lead to verbal confrontation or being “Unfollowed”.
Traditionalists were there. Decked out in red white and blue,with their smiles gleaming and Trump 2016 plastered on the front of Cotton blended shirts. I wondered if they recalled the hardships of growing up before, during or just outside of, World War II or The Great depression. The shit sacrifices families made to survive. Do they feel like Trump will re-establish conservative values?
Looking back, I guess a moment I could consider to be vile was of the gent with the “Don’t attack cops…” T-shirt. Also sporting a “Make America Great Again” hat, his shirt was a tribute to Darren Wilson: the cop responsible for murdering Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. His message was that anyone that opposed trump should remember the results of Ferguson and that “we” will take back America. Of course I’m interpreting his feelings based on looks but having your picture taken by someone who mimics Mike Brown in so many ways, had to feel…messy? Hmm, probably not. Take a second to stare at his picture and let me know what you think.
I could chip away at many levels but the justice of being there, among the three women who reacted to the short notice of trump’s visit and formed the entire protest, is something that’s fairly easy and very tough to share. It was hot and humid and the police understood the climate. America is not in a good position and an uprising in Toledo is not what we wanted. Nevertheless a classy protest was what we got. Complete with a few “f— Donald Trumps.”
Side Note: While helping a friend, Yusuf Lateef, put together his performance installation for The Gallery Project’s RE:Formation Project I was approached about displaying my experience, two days before the show started. Luckily, and thanks to my girl, I was able to submit, roughly 14 images that will be on display here in Toledo for a month and in Ann Arbor, Michigan for the same amount of time. Check out the link for the address. Thanks for reading and don’t be afraid to share a thought or two.
Also: I shot this entire experience with a Fuji X-pro 1 with the Fuji XF 35mm F2 and Ef- x20 Flash if you are curious.