Documentary Photographer and Writer Robert Gerhardt is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the project ‘Mic Check: 7 Years Documenting the Black Lives Matter Movement in NYC’. To see Robert’s body of work, click on any image.
On November 24th, 2014 a Grand Jury absolved a white police officer of the killing of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Two weeks later, a second Grand Jury in New York City cleared white police officers accused of killing an unarmed black man named Eric Garner.
Following these decisions, the local protests that erupted in Ferguson and on Staten Island spread to cities and towns across the country. People took to the streets to protest against both the Grand Jury decisions, as well as police brutality and racism in general. The largest of these protests garnered huge amounts of media coverage. But there were also many smaller protests that received little to no media coverage. Following the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter as a starting point, I began to track and document both the large and small protests in New York City.
Over time, the size of the crowds at these protests dwindled and the media coverage of them all but disappeared, even as the list of names of those African Americans killed by the police across the country continued to grow. But with the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake at the hands of police in 2020, the protests were reenergized. Once again mass crowds took to the street even during a global pandemic, to call for justice and to change the system that allows these deaths to occur.
But the protesters’ work is not yet done. While the officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck was quickly tried and convicted, the rate of police officers being held accountable for the deaths of Black and Brown Americans is still very low. And meanwhile, people continue to die, and the list of names of the dead continues to grow.
And after the heights of the crowds in 2020 and 2021, the protests in New York City are again dwindling. But I continue to pack my cameras and film and head to the streets when the protests do happen to try and capture the first draft of history of this newest chapter in the Civil Rights Movement.
All images and text © Robert Gerhardt
By Robert Gerhardt
Robert’s Previous Contribution To Edge Of Humanity Magazine
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