“Photographing Anti-War Movement (1967-1968)
In 1967 a lot of things were wrong with America and I felt I had to say something about what was going on. I wanted to take pictures that explained the truth to people and presented them with alternatives. I worked with several underground newspapers, and chose what I wanted to photograph. A police press pass gave me special access to events…
At peace demonstrations I saw a lot of violence and police brutality. The police almost always provoked the violence, an aspect of the situation the mainstream press was not reporting. Newspaper accounts of demonstrations I had been to bore little relation to the experience I had had, almost as if the reporters had been to a different demonstration.
The establishment media devoted more space to movie stars, corporate announcements, and singular violent crimes than to an expression of social and human conscience by tens of thousands of people.
One night there was a demonstration against South African diamond mines, on Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center. The police charged into the peaceful picket line and began hitting people with nightsticks. Everyone ran, but the police caught up with one young man who had a limp and beat him to the ground for no reason whatsoever. I took a picture. Someone yelled that Bobby Kennedy was right below us in the ice-skating rink.
I ran down and told him that the police were beating people on the street above, naively expecting him to immediately run upstairs and stop it. He was cautious, obviously not wanting or able to get personally involved. He sent an aide to see what was happening. By that time it was over.
I then rushed my film to the Associated Press, one of the largest press agencies in the world. After the film was processed, the editors saw the picture and told me, “No, it’s not for us, we don’t want it.” Their reaction was just as shocking to me as the police brutality I had photographed. The people who controlled the media disliked hippies and were against the demonstrations. Their failure to report events truthfully was not an oversight.
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