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‘We Just Want to Live.’ Photographers Share What They Experienced While Covering Protests Across America

3 minute read

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, protests against racism and injustice spread, most peacefully, across America. As people gathered in more than 150 cities, so too did scores of local photographers who felt compelled to bear witness to the historic moments unfolding in their own streets. From Los Angeles to Charleston, TIME asked photographers who documented what was happening to tell us what they saw.

Devin Allen

Devin Allen | Baltimore

“The activists demanded the police officers read every single name you see on this list. The Lieutenant Chief read every single name on that list. He named everyone from Tyrone West…to Eric Garner to so many others.”

Alexis Hunley

Alexis Hunley | Los Angeles

“The love I have for every Black person who has marched, protested and organized, past and present, is what’s keeping me together.”

Doug Barrett

Doug Barrett | Junction City, Kans.

“When I see this photo of Jason [Simmons, with his mother and siblings], I think, We just need to stop the hate. Nobody’s asking for anything. We just want to live.”

Raven B. Greene

Raven B. Greene | Charleston, S.C.

“This woman was displaying such frustration and raw emotion, chanting, ‘NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, BLACK LIVES MATTER.’ No words could express how emotion-inducing these words felt from this young woman.”

Brandon Scott

Brandon Scott | Summerville, S.C.

“When I saw this mother and daughter protesting I thought, when will it ever end?”

Jonathan Cherry

Jonathan Cherry | Louisville, Ky.

“We are participating in the birth of the largest civil rights movement in world history. Old, young, black and white, we gather to celebrate the lives of those lost to police brutality. We demonstrate the impending death of white supremacy.”

Fort Wayne Protests
DJ E-Clyps/Blacklight Media

DJ E-Clyps | Fort Wayne, Ind.

“There is so much hurt, frustration and pain right now that sometimes you have no words for it, but you can see it in their eyes. I wanted these photos to display that passion and intensity, because many of them feel unheard, and hopefully these images will speak for them.”

Stacey Graham of Detroit holds her sign while marching down Michigan Ave. during the second consecutive day of protests against the death in Minneapolis police custody of African-American man George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020 in Detroit, Mich. On Friday night, protests escalated resulting in dozens of arrests and a shooting death of a 21-year old man. “We’re just so tired, we’re exhausted. I have a son and grandson fear for them all the time,” she said. “That’s no way to live…to live in fear.”
Sylvia Jarrus

Sylvia Jarrus | Detroit

“I was drawn to Stacey Graham because I felt both her strength and sadness. She told me she lives in fear every day for her son and grandson. I thought of the hundreds of Black mothers grieving across America because their sons and daughters will never come home.”

Protestors near Cup Foods where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 27.
Patience Zalanga

Patience Zalanga | Minneapolis

“The city of Minneapolis now has to reconcile with the fact that this is what happens when you ignore the voices of marginalized groups. The collective outrage in our city has reached its threshold.”

Woosler Delisfort

Woosler Delisfort | Miami

“We are fueled not solely by our own anger and exhaustion, but also that of those who have already fought this fight.”

Tyler Lyles

Tyler Lyles | Charleston, S.C.

“When I took this picture I couldn’t help but think, ‘As a Black man in America, I should not have to constantly ask a question like this each and every time I leave my house.’”

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