As with most riots, although tragic, the photographs that come out of these stories can be powerful. The photos I will show are all photos that I find inspiring from riot and protest situations that show our humanity and compassion. These photos, to me, are the most beautiful.
The events that transpired in Ferguson in November 2014 were troubling. The police office who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown back in August was not indicted. He walked free and the public reacted. There were massive amounts of news coverage, there were supportive tweets, there were riots and protests and heavily armed police officers that incited more outrage. However, there were some absolutely visually stunning photos that came out of Ferguson during those protests. Not just in Ferguson, but also from protests in other states as well.
Below is a photo from a protest in Portland, Oregon. It is a photo that is tear-producing and heartfelt. It is also incredibly powerful, more powerful to me than the photos of people tipping over a cop car.
This photo is amazingly beautiful for its subject matter. The photographer, Johnny H. Nguyen, captured a wonderful moment. This photo not only captures two people, it captures how two people feel. This 12-year-old boy, who is very stylish I might add, hugs a cop and cries after the cop sees the boy’s free hugs sign and asks if he can have one. It tells you so much about the events of Ferguson even though this photo was not shot in Ferguson. Again, it came out of Portland, Oregon, but the message is the same. In this time of outrage and fear, it is possible to find peace, friendship and love. Racism doesn’t have to be alive and well, we can stop it. Also, there are wonderfully good people out there, not everyone is bad. That is what this photo makes me think about. Nguyen said of his photo: “‘It has spread the message of coming together despite our differences, the message is about love and compassion and finding a common ground.'” If a photo like this doesn’t change something, I don’t know what will.
Another photo that shows this love and compassion in a riot that I find so inspiring is from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 2011. After the Canadian team lost the Stanley Cup, people threw a fit and started rioting. One couple had been knocked to the ground and in an effort to calm down his girlfriend, the boy kissed the girl.
Even when surrounded by so much chaos, the boy’s thought was to help his girlfriend. That’s so endearing and sweet and again, another reminder of good things that can happen during bad times.
Finally, the last photo I will share is of a woman named Keisha Thomas in 1996 throwing herself on top of someone to save him from being beaten. What’s even more encouraging is that she is a black woman throwing herself on top of a supposed white supremacist. It was thought that he might be a member of the KKK and so this angry mob tried to attack him.
This photo gives me chills. This man is the type that may very well have beaten up a girl like herself just because she is black. It is difficult to put into words what this photo means to me. The photographer, Mark Brunner, said of his photo: “‘She put herself at physical risk to protect someone who, in my opinion, would not have done the same for her,” he said. “Who does that in this world?'” Thomas was 18 at the time of this photo and she committed such a selfless act that should have immediately shown everyone that there is nothing wrong with someone because of the color of their skin. It is a photo that I believe should have prevented things like the Ferguson occurrence from happening in the first place. Michael Brown should not have been shot and riots should not have happened because the officer was not indicted. Racism should have stopped a long time ago and these powerful images will hopefully play a part in stopping it in the present and the future.
Not all of these photos have to deal with racism, one of them is sports fanaticism at it’s worst. However, these photos are all beautiful and powerful in their own way and hopefully they can make a difference. These are photos that can incite change. These photos are so inspiring because they show the love and compassion we should all have for each other in this world.
Cover photo from Getty Images:
Oregon protest photo from:
Riot Kiss photo from Rich Lam, Getty Images:
Girl throws herself on guy to save him from being beaten by Mark Brunner, Getty Images: