A Lackluster Demonstration
New York City let the country down today. Maybe it was the heat; maybe it was the blinding and unrelenting sun; or maybe apathy has finally set in. Whatever. The "Families Belong Together" march was a bust.
It is hard to estimate how many people showed up. One newspaper reported upward to 50,000 demonstrators. I've been to quite a few demonstrations. I would put the number at no more than 10,000, but I concede that the march's gathering space (Foley Square), the route (over the Brooklyn Bridge), and the park where there were two hours of speeches (Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza Park) made it difficult to estimate crowd size. People were spread out. Moreover, I saw many people head for the exits after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge rather than heading to the rally.
At the park, the master of ceremonies kept referring to the many people still crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. My photographs indicate that this was a fake boast. I was on the bridge for a fairly lengthy period of time. Although there was a bottleneck at the structure's exit ramp to the street, looking back, I saw very few demonstrators. Undoubtedly the stragglers continued to cross, but I doubt that they were anywhere close to the numbers implied by the announcements from the stage.
As for the crowd's demeanor: It was pathetic. Sorry, looking at your screen is not a good visual when you are supposed to be both angry and deeply concerned about innocent children separated from their parents. In almost all of my crowd shots, I have at least one and often several people looking down. This is a particularly bad look when you are carrying a banner with others. It also is a bad look when listening to speeches, or even worse, when standing behind the speaker. I don't count, but all of this inattentiveness is being picked up by the national media for broadcast and publication.
The organizers made a huge tactical mistake by selecting Cadman Plaza Park as the site for the rally and speeches. From the sounds of it, they knew it was going to be hot. The open field, which is covered in astroturf, offered no shade, but plenty of reflected heat. The crowd responded accordingly, positioning itself on the opposites side of the field, which are tree-lined, shaded alleyways. Consequently, there was lots of empty space on the field. The proof: I walked into the front row with no effort despite arriving a good 30 minutes after the speeches had begun--at least that is my estimate.
Neither Foley Square, nor Cadman Plaza Park were set up with visuals in mind. There were no backdrops, just a microphone and podium at each location. At Foley Square, too many people were walking in back of the main speaker, who droned on as she tried to fill time until the march stepped off at 11:30 AM. You would think New York City could have fielded a couple of notable musicians to entertain the crowd. Or have our leading lights of song already staked out beach space on Long Island for the Fourth of July?
Had the organizers been smart, they would have supplied signs. The initial wave of marchers had some nice signage, but I shot dozens of images on the Brooklyn Bridge where only one or two people were holding a sign. It was difficult to ascertain whether this was a protest march or just a bunch of Manhattanites heading to Brooklyn for a day of relaxation and recreation.
As is typical of these sorts of events, the speeches went on far too long. The Left loves identity politics, which means all the splinter groups were allocated podium time.
It was fun to see and hear the Reverend Al Sharpton, Amy Schumer, and Kerry Washington. Schumer is not a polished speaker, but I give her credit for showing up. I was both disappointed and surprised that Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez--the Democratic challenger who defeated Representative Joseph Crowley in the primary election for New York's 14th Congressional District seat--was a no-show. I certainly didn't see her. Nor did I see any reference to her in the media following the march.
I am surprised that New York couldn't field a better team given how atrocious Trump's immigration polices are. Maybe things were better in Boston. Based on reports, Chicago certainly wasn't the Second City today.
"Our New York is Immigration New York"
Fogul Azul Adds Some Rhythm to the Festivities
Penned In By Police Barricades
The Big Cheese
Drumming in 96 Degree Heat
"The True Administration of Justice is the Firmest Pillar of Good Government"
Melania, the Maven of Style, Set the March's Fashion Tone
The Sun Beats Down and the Heat Rises From the Cement Below
The Hard Core Leftists Were Out
Chaos Erupts as the Marchers Funnel Into the Street from Foley Square
The Police Wait for the Marchers to Catch Up Before Taking Off
On the Bridge's Walkway Entrance
Dr. Seuss is More Relevant Than Ever in the Age of Trump
"Vote 2018 Midterms"
Up and Over
"Families Belong Together"
A Young Man Speaking His Mind
"Revolting Lesbians" Say "Revolt Against Raids"
The Reverend Al Sharpton
Kerry Washington Delivers an Impassioned Speech
Amy Schumer at the "Families Belong Together" Rally
Ravi Ragbir Speaking to Those Gathered in Cadman Plaza Park About his Arrest by ICE in January 2018
Reverand Al Forcefully Makes His Point
An Angry Look
The Supreme Court Gets It Wrong Again: First Dred Scott and then the Muslim Ban
Signing Ballot Petition for Ede Fox's Candidacy
What's in the Bucket?
Right Under the Sign
The Loneliest Man Attending the March: The Single Counter Protester
Photographer's Notes: The New York Times published an outstanding photograph of the first wave of marchers headed over the Brooklyn Bridge. The photographer was facing west, so the sky was blue rather than blown out. I wanted that shot, and I did see a pro, who was talking and possibly working with a CBS crew, in a position for a similar shot later in the day. It is obvious that the photograher who made the photograph appearing in the New York Times was working from an elevated vantage point. I suspect that he was standing on one of the beams that are suspended above the roadway that runs adjacent to the pedestrian walkway. If I am correct, I give him a lot of credit. Given my fear of heights, that is not a shot I am ever going to attempt.
When I took the cover shot, I was one to two feet in front of the banner, using an extremely wide angle lens, walking backwards, as the parade marshals tried to block me. This was the first banner, and the standard bearers were on the ramp leading to the Brooklyn Bridge. I was in position long before the marshals arrived, so I didn't break any rules in pre-positioning myself there. I didn't leave until I had the shot, which meant I was there for about 15 to 30 seconds after I heard the marshals yell, "Get the photographers out of here," or something similar.
From the outset, I knew where I would have to position myself to get a shot equivalent to the one in the Times, but I lingered on the first half of the bridge to capture some images that would better reflect the flow of events. My miscalculation: I assumed there would be more signage when I was on the back half of the bridge looking back, but the flow of marchers tapered off pretty quickly. As I have already noted, to be effective, a demonstration must produce great visuals. Signs are a critical component, but they were in relatively short supply today.