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Baltimore Protests Riots Freddie Gray Devin Allen
Protestors at a peacful rally in Baltimore on April 23, 2015. Devin Allen

Meet the Amateur Photographer Covering Baltimore's Protests

Apr 28, 2015

Devin Allen, a 26-year-old amateur photographer with aspirations to make a career out of his work, has become a viral sensation. This week, his images of protests in Baltimore have amassed thousands of likes and have been shared by international media organizations around the world.

Read how Allen's photographs ended up on the cover of TIME.

Allen grew up in West Baltimore, just five minutes away from where Freddie Gray’s encounter with the police left him with a fatal spinal injury. The police have denied using force against the 25-year-old, but one of the family’s attorneys said Gray’s spine was 80% “severed at the neck.”

“When I first saw the news of what happened to [Freddie Gray], I knew I was going to cover it,” says Allen, who usually shares his street photography on Instagram. “But I never thought it would get this big. My city kind of has a bad rap, but I thought if we can come together peacefully, it [would] be epic for this city, and it was my goal to capture that.”

The protests, which were peaceful for most of the weekend, devolved into scenes of rioting, arson and looting after Gray’s funeral, leaving more than a dozen police officers injured and prompting the declaration of a state of emergency as reinforcements arrived to restore order.

The Great Divide ::: #blacklivesmatter #Baltimore #ripfreddiegray :::: #DVNLLN

A post shared by 🖖🏾Devin Allen ◼️◾️▪️ (@bydvnlln) on

“[It’s] not been a surprise,” says Allen. “I know my city. With all the frustration with the city, the mayor, the economy, the pot has been boiling.” But that has not changed Allen’s resolve to show exactly what’s been happening in his streets. “I went in thinking I would show the good, the bad and the ugly,” he says. “Of course, since I’m a black man, I understand the frustration, but at the same time, I’m a photographer. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m going to tell you exactly what happened. That was the goal.”

My people are tired and are fighting back in a rage :::: #Baltimore #ripfreddiegray #blacklivesmatter #prayforbaltimore :::: #DVNLLN

A post shared by 🖖🏾Devin Allen ◼️◾️▪️ (@bydvnlln) on

His images, which capture the intensity of the protests, have gone viral. On April 27, Rihanna shared one of them to her 17.7 million followers on Instagram. “I’m still in awe of it all,” says the photographer who first picked a camera in 2013 and has drawn inspiration from the work of photographers like Gordon Parks and artists like Andy Warhol.

The most widely shared of his photographs of the protests shows a man running away from a pack of charging policemen. “When I shot that, I thought it was a good picture, so I uploaded [from my camera] to my phone,” he says. “By the time I’d done that, the police was all around me. I was in the middle of it.”

We are sick & tired ::: #Baltimore #ripfreddiegray | #DVNLLN

A post shared by 🖖🏾Devin Allen ◼️◾️▪️ (@bydvnlln) on

And it took several hours for Allen to realize the photograph had gone viral. “I was still shooting, still snapping till the sun went down,” he says.

Today, Allen will be covering the aftermath of last night’s violent protests. “When you called me, I was getting my stuff ready,” he says. “I’m going to try to make it into town and catch what’s happening.”

See the Clashes in Baltimore After Freddie Gray's Funeral

A rioter stands atop a burning car as another man pours fuel onto the fire while Baltimore firefighters behind them fight fires in mutliple burning buildings set ablaze by rioters during clashes in Baltimore
A rioter stands atop a burning car as another man pours fuel onto the fire while Baltimore firefighters behind them fight fires in multiple burning buildings set ablaze by rioters during clashes in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.Jim Bourg—Reuters
A rioter stands atop a burning car as another man pours fuel onto the fire while Baltimore firefighters behind them fight fires in mutliple burning buildings set ablaze by rioters during clashes in Baltimore
Firefighters battle a blaze after riots in Baltimore
Protests in Baltimore After Funeral Held For Baltimore Man Who Died While In Police Custody
Demonstrators Gather Outside Baltimore Police Station to Protest Death of Freddie Gray
APTOPIX Suspect Dies Baltimore
Demonstrators climb on a destroyed Baltimore Police car in the street near the corner of Pennsylvania and North avenues during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
US-POLICE-CRIME-RACISM
A demonstrator looks up after being sprayed with pepper spray during clashes in Baltimore
A man walks past a burning police vehicle in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Police put out a fire while responding to people protesting after the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Police officers arrest a man near Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Police officers use pepper spray against demonstrators after the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Baltimore police officers tackle and arrest looters after they emerged from a "Deals" store with merchandise during clashes between rioters and police in Baltimore
Demonstrators Gather Outside Baltimore Police Station to Protest Death of Freddie Gray
A man hurls a rock at Baltimore police officers outside the Mondawmin Mall following the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Police officers walk in formation on Reisterstown Road near Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore on April 27, 2015 .
Baltimore police officers form a line in front of protesters near Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
A woman cries as demonstrators throw rocks at police officers during clashes in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Protesters surround a police officer near Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Friends and relatives say their last goodbyes to Freddie Gray as his casket is lowered into his grave at the Woodland Cemetery in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
A pillow depicts the image of Freddie Gray inside his open casket during the funeral at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Gloria Darden, mother of Freddie Gray, is comforted as she embraces his body before his funeral at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Gloria Darden, mother of Freddie Gray, is embraced before her son's funeral at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
A rioter stands atop a burning car as another man pours fuel onto the fire while Baltimore firefighters behind them figh
... VIEW MORE

Jim Bourg—Reuters
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