Sunday, September 16, 2007

This is What Democracy Looks Like

(image: Elaine Thompson/AP. Via YahooNews.)

I hadn't seen this photo anywhere. Here's the caption:

"A police officer begins to lift a weapon toward protesters as a presidential limousine drives past behind Monday, Aug. 27, 2007, in Bellevue, Wash. President Bush arrived Monday afternoon to headline a fundraiser for Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., just hours after the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez."

I found this photo over at BagNews, a site that analyzes the language and messages of current photography, particularly political photography. It is a cogent site that provides a means for evaluating photos in the news.

My "read" of this photo is the sense that we are just one trigger-happy police officer away from martial law. Because of the tenor of this administration, there is a 24/7, fear/hate mongering atmosphere. "If you're not with us, you're a traitor." It is hard to imagine what prompted the officer in Bellevue, WA, of all places, to raise his enormous gun (I read that it is actually 40mm grenade launcher, often used a a tear gas gun). When an officer raises his gun, isn't there the implication that the situation warrants severe action, that an officer doesn't raise his gun unless he is getting prepared to shoot. Otherwise, the gun stays at rest. And look at his eyes.

Here are some quotes from the comments section under this photo at BagNews:

"Not only are the "unfriendly" citizens not admitted to public events, to ask questions or even to be present in "unfriendly T-shirts or wearing a wrong color," but even in the streets the police protection of the ruler is following the rule, that these are not the times to protest, to raise voices, time to shut up!"

"I grew up in Bellevue. Last time I checked, it was so Republican that the NYT does not even offer home delivery. Had this shot been taken in Baghdad, it would more understandable."

Darcy Burner, Democratic candidate for this seat, narrowly lost in 2006. To match this fund raising visit by Bush, there was a huge online effort to donate to Darcy's campaign. Also, Darcy held a Virtual Town Hall, with this video invitation:

No doubt, the Secret Service et al. thought that might mean some sort of threat on the ground as well. The caption reads "protesters" but they are not shown.

YouTube has a number of videos, and this one by AuntBee09 captures the variety of law enforcement groups as well as protesters. Midway through it, as the Presidential motorcade speeds by, the police dispatcher says "The package is en route" several times."

What an iconic photo!


Wordsmith said...

I hang at The Bag as well. I've looked for that specific photo and cannot find it. There was a slide show of photos and you see the same cop but with his weapon lowered, not up & leveled as in his picture.

jamm said...

wordsmith, try this link