My absolute dream job would be to travel cross country with a presidential candidate. All the people, the energy, and new places, from one to the next - I'd be in heaven. I knew this by the end of 2011, my first year with a camera, and even made sure I was the first to let Barb Kinney, who lives in my neighborhood and was one of Bill Clinton's White House photographers for six years and Hillary's campaign photographer in 2008, know I'd be thrilled to assist her when Hillary ran again in a couple years. This past Saturday, I would at least get to pretend for a day. Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign was headed for Seattle, and I determined I'd follow him from a Social Security anniversary celebration downtown to a $200 fundraiser and then to a rally in front of thousands at UW's Alaska Airlines Arena. It was a long day - one that left me and many others with a lot to process.
BLACK LIVES MATTER ACTIVISTS GREET BERNIE SANDERS IN SEATTLE
A lot's been written in national news about what happened at Sanders' first stop. (The piece that sums it up best for me is Pramila Jayapal's editorial in The Stranger: Why Saturday's Bernie Sanders Rally Left Me Feeling Heartbroken. It's a truly wonderful editorial. Also, Jayapal is pictured with Sanders in the fourth image below.) But anyway, as soon as the senator from Vermont took the stage, activists fighting for black lives interrupted him and, after a back and forth with the event organizer, were reluctantly given the mic. The two women antagonized the booing crowd before requesting a four-and-a-half-minute-long moment of silence in honor of Michael Brown. Sanders went and stood in the corner of the stage. All the while, I wondered what he could've done that would've made me proud of the man. Pockets of people (mostly white, but not all) wearing Bernie shirts were yelling disgusting, shameful things throughout. I wanted it to stop. Why didn't Bernie have the answer? I don't remember if it was before or afterwards (I don't want to watch the video again), but at some point Marissa Janae Johnson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Seattle, quipped from the podium: "I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is, filled with its progressives, but you already did it for me - Thank you." After witnessing so many angry, rage-filled Bernie supporters, I couldn't argue with her, and it made me cringe. What she was saying was necessary. Suddenly I was making photos I hadn't planned on making - images unsympathetic of a crowd I'd assumed myself to be pretty aligned with. It was ugly. We'd waited hours in the sun just to see two bullies get their way. We also got to see two brave women put pressure on a candidacy which already perceives itself to be allied with Black Lives Matter, yet for months has ignored black organizers' critiques of the campaign's colorblindness. That's why this happened Saturday. It's already made and is making a difference for the better. Someone put it pretty well on facebook earlier today: "Political organizing 101: If your resources and capacity are precious and limited, you challenge those who can best give you what you want. Hi, Bernie." What a moment to get to document. It's almost a new day and time for a nap, so stay tuned for the rest of Saturday's images later in the afternoon!