All photos on this BLOG Post (c) Anthony Bolante/REUTERS, 2012
(SEATTLE) May 1, 2012 – Conflict photojournalism isn’t something that I specifically seek-out in my visual reportage career. I live and love adventure (as you all know) both at work and during my rare leisure time. But over the years, it seems as if once every six months, I find myself digging out my gas mask, kevlar helmet, vest and ballistic eye protection to use along with my Canon cameras and www.ThinkTankPhoto.com gear to cover a photo assignment. That kit along with years of military experience and having “lived” in Afghanistan for few years, I combined those tools on May 1, 2012 during my most recent foray into covering demonstrations. It was a day that started out peacefully but developed into all-out urban chaos.
The Occupy-America movement has been the most recent permutation of civil demonstrations across the United States that started at New York’s Wall Street and found catalysts for impactive protests in Oakland-California, Portland-Oregon and of course, Seattle-Washington. What was originally expected to be a somewhat benign bunch of march demonstrations around Seattle on May 1, the string of simmering events that day peaked with 90-seconds of shear terror in downtown Seattle’s business district when of the 700 marchers that halted street traffic and business in downtown Seattle, about 60 black-mask cladded self-proclaimed anarchist blocked city arterials, unleashed a barrage of window-exploding attacks on numerous big name retailers such as Niketown, American Apparel and Wells Fargo Bank, to name a few.
Having covered my last volatile ”Occupy-Seattle” protests in November 2011, my colleague www.seattlepi.com staff photojournalist Josh Trujillo and I frequently ally ourselves sharing threat intelligence and mutual security by working together on the streets for our visual reportage of such conflicts. Last Tuesday’s protest eruptions in Seattle was no exception to that unofficial teamwork and I am grateful to have a reliable friend and colleague to mutually (and more safely) cover such conflicts. To keep this BLOG posting brief, basically, Josh and I marched with the 700 protestors peacefully from Westlake Park for about two-dozen blocks around downtown Seattle with throngs of other camera-carriers, photojournalists and videojournalists. While smaller eruptions of destruction took place at the Federal Courthouse then at a Wells Fargo Bank branch, when the 90-seconds of attacks on the prominent retail stores happened, the swift, violent and well-orchestrated attacks even caught me, the Army dude, by-surprise. The black-mask clad anarchist executed what many in the military would call “a text book L-shaped ambush.” When the anarchists turned their black-flag-poles into bats to destroy an entire block of storefront windows, www.SeattlePI.com photographer Josh Trujillo and New York Times freelancer Stuart Isset found ourselves RIGHT THERE in between the bat-wielding black masks and the pepper-spray shooting Seattle PD. No other photographers or video journalists were as close to the clash as we were for those violent 90-seconds.
Here’s a link to Seattle ABC affiliate KIRO-7 News’ short video clip that show the few of us still photogs in the melee. At 1:11, you can see Josh and I (on the left side of the screen) smack in the middle of the flash-attack and at 2:20, the overhead view shows Josh and I narrowly missing a Seattle PD riot police officer’s 30-foot-stream of pepper stray aimed at an anarchist running by us: http://www.kirotv.com/videos/news/black-hooded-anarchists-target-stores/vG6yn/
In respect to the coverage my friend and colleague Josh did, here is a link to his www.seattlepi.com photo gallery: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/slideshow/May-Day-protests-in-Seattle-turn-violent-42415.php%22
Here’s a few links to some of the other conflicts that I have covered in the past year alone.
June 2011 NHL Vancouver Canucks-Boston Bruins playoff hockey riots:
Thanks again to Josh Trujillo my wingman for my most recent conflict photo assignment.
Until my next BLOG posting, Aloha everyone … Anthony