(From a photo exhibition at Art All Night in Washington, DC - September 30, 2018)
Our Constitution gives us the right to peaceably assemble. It is American law, a doctrine cemented in the text of the First Amendment and based on the fundamental human right of civil liberty. Together with the freedom of speech, they form the bedrock of our democracy. There is no other freedom more important and sacrosanct than the right to gather in groups, big or small, and express ideas, concerns or grievances publicly, without the fear of retribution from government or any other authority. This right to protest in the public square, while seemingly protected by the highest statute in law, and the fundamental and natural rights of human existence, has time and again been met by forces aimed to suppress, extinguish, muzzle and/or censor those who dare exercise such a right. And so it has come at great cost to those who have spilled blood, deferred dreams and toiled tirelessly in order to preserve our common interest and ability to stand hand and hand to protest and demonstrate to whomever might listen…but especially to lawmakers, authorities and decision makers, so that they might hear the sound of protest and the expression of our ideas on how we wish to equitably be governed under the law in a manner that perhaps wasn’t either truly understood, embraced or envisioned by the authors of the Constitution or its First Amendment.
So we Washingtonians sit on hallowed grounds. The area south of Pennsylvania Avenue and North of Independence, bound by the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial to the east and west respectively, has set the scene for many protests and demonstrations in our country’s history – Suffrage, Temperance, Pro-War, Anti-War, Civil Rights, Gay Rights, the right of a woman to choose, the right to life…or even to honor our American tradition of the peaceful transfer of power every four to eight years...or the death of a President.
As a photographer I am drawn to such events. I feel compelled to capture us Americans in our native habitat, exercising our freedoms and demonstrating the breadth and beauty of our democracy. It does not fall short on me that elsewhere in the world, even on our continent, and perhaps even in small isolated pockets within our union, the ability to exercise such civil liberties does not exist or can be met with dire consequence. And so, I enjoy gathering images and taking part in this awesome display of Americanism, where people can come from far and wide to our city, sometimes for just a few short hours to unfurl their flags, stretch out their banners, display their signs and PROTEST!!!
The photos in this exhibit are taken from these six events: