It would have been much better to share these photos closer to the day I made them, which was the first of July. The nationwide protests were still happening then, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the hands of Minneapolis police.
I had been avoiding Downtown. But my work laptop quit working and corporate IT needed me to bring it in for repair. That meant a visit to our Indianapolis office in the heart of the protest area. I knew I’d be seeing my city all boarded up, so I took a camera. But I shot film, and film takes time, especially since I shot color and have to send it out for processing.
This is the building in which I work. It’s on both the Michigan and National Roads, better known as Washington Street in Indianapolis. Walking up to the building, I felt like I’d stepped into an episode of The Twilight Zone. I was saddened, and I felt a little anger deep down, both over the destruction and the generational, pervasive poor treatment of Black Americans that led to it.
After IT fixed my laptop I walked up and down Washington for a few blocks. This is what I saw there.
After seeing photos of colorful murals on boarded-up windows in other cities, the many bare boards on Washington Street surpried me. Maybe it’s the same in other cities, but nobody shows the unpainted boards.
After a few blocks, I turned around and walked to Monument Circle, the heart of Downtown.
The southeast quadrant of the Circle was closed to traffic for the weekly summer farmer’s market. It is normally held a few blocks away on Market Street, between City Market and the City County Building, but street work there has moved the market to the Circle all summer. I felt encouraged to see it there. I’d seen a number of news photos of protesters on the Circle, including heartbreaking photos of a minivan driving right into some protesters. The farmer’s market felt to me like a reclaiming of the space for good, normal life.
I’m infuriated that as a nation we still don’t treat Black people with the full honor and respect due any human being. I hope these protests, along with those across the nation, cause us to finally face and change our shameful racist behavior.
Seeing my city like this was hard. But it’s even harder for my Black neighbors that they have had to live for so long with fear and anger.
Olympus OM-2n, 40mm f/2 Zuiko Auto-S, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200.
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