Tag: protests

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Give Peace a Chance to Bring Justice

This morning, while walking from the Point in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, I passed by a dove placidly perched on a wooden fence. The bird looked somewhat scrawny, and I wondered if even weakened—for it made no attempt to flee when I turned back with Leica Q2, stopped, manually focused, and captured the Featured Image. Surely there is a metaphor here somewhere.

Racial riots rage across swathes of the country, months after the first ones in late May 2020: Chicago, Ill., Kenosha, Wisc., Minneapolis, Minn., Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash. are among the cities stricken by arson and looting. Today, in D.C., on the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s “I Have a Dream” speech, thousands of protesters rallied for racial equality and against violence during The Commitment March. Afternoon stormy weather and heavy rains dampened activities, which, more or less, came to a soggy end by early evening. Mmmm, is there another metaphor there?

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Going Postal

Among Americans, few institutions, and the services provided, are as meaningful as the United States Post Office. The Second Continental Congress created the U.S. postal system on July 26, 1775—nearly a year before the Colonies formally declared national independence from Britain—and chose Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general. Living generations, even the youngest among them, share some emotional experience from receiving, or sending, mail. The card from grandma is a tangible expression of her love for you. Delivery of an online-ordered package—and every other one before it—is a moment of anticipation and joy. Feelings about the mail are entrenched, and within our society they are universally shared.

We put faith in the Post Office and its capacity to deliver our mail. But now, Democrat politicians and their supporters assert that our faith is misplaced—that we cannot trust the USPS, because the Trump Administration conspired to  disrupt postal operations to tamper with this year’s Presidential election. The allegations exploded like a supernova—seemingly from invisibility—not long after the President raised concerns that universal mail-in ballot initiatives, like the one here in California, would lead to voter fraud. Trump’s Democrat rivals assert that cost-cutting streamlining of postal operations and recent slowdown of mail processing are evidence of his interference to steal your vote.

It’s non sequitur. One thing has little to do with the other. Donald Trump is a longstanding critic of the USPS as it exists today—way before the brouhaha about mail-in ballots—and there are legitimate concerns that existing postal logistical capabilities and various states’ voting rules will lead to electoral chaos. But as a political maneuver, Democrats have whacked a hornet’s nest of emotional attachment to mail that already stings the President.

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Who is Watching You?

Be not fooled. We live in a surveillance society. I am not paranoid, nor even freaked by this startling situation. I merely take for granted that someone, somewhere, is watching—perhaps from a business’ security camera, household door webcam, or citizen’s smartphone.

Occasionally, though, surveillance severity surprises me. And I wonder: From what is the watcher afraid—or, worse, what is he or she hiding? The Featured Image is one example. I frequently walk by this house and marvel because the windows are so appealing but typically blocked by blinds or curtains. Who lives in such darkness? Vampires? On Aug. 18, 2020 something else rapped my attention—and I can’t say whether or not newly added. Look at those industrial-size security cameras. Yikes!

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The Strong Arms of Defiance

Around the corner from where was the Urban Pumpkin is the local gym, which closed during California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s first state-shuttering order in mid-March 2020 but has since defied the second shutdown, started July 13, that restricts indoor activities at many commercial businesses and institutions (like churches). Four days ago, San Diego County issued an order for the “immediate closure of Boulevard Fitness”; compliance “may be enforced by the San Diego Police Department”.

In meaningless sense of solidarity—the way flabby, beer-gut spectators feel good when watching their favorite sports team compete and win—I have checked daily for more than a month to see if the gym is open, silently cheering that it was. But on a Monday morning, following the “cease and desist” order, would Boulevard Fitness welcome patrons of exercise and good health?

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The Cats of University Heights: Rebel

The fifty-third kitty seen behind door or window appeared as my wife and I walked along Mission, between Georgia and Park, on July 17, 2020. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/452 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 9:17 a.m. PDT. On inspection, at home, I immediately liked the composition of the iPhone XS shot but not the “Black Lives Matter” sign above him. No amount of cropping could satisfy more—in fact less.

The problem? This series isn’t political, nor is it meant to be. Black Lives Matter isn’t just a slogan—it refers to an organization with political ambitions. For reasons too numerous for the tone of a furry feline profile, BLM is polarizing—or at least in this neighborhood. Since the riots started at the end of May, I have seen an undeniable pattern emerge across University Heights: Signs and posters in windows supporting BLM or American flags hanging outside homes—but not both. Citizens choose to voice whom or what they support by the icon displayed; for some people, that’s nothing whatsoever.

So after careful consideration, fourteen days later, with the qualifications explained above, please allow me to introduce to the series the ginger that I nickname Rebel.

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Signs of Our Turbulent Times

Six minutes after seeing the squirrel treed by Bruce, I came upon something quite unexpected along the Florida-Georgia alley between Madison and Monroe in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. The Featured Image (warning 29MB file) needs no explanation—other than camera (Leica Q2) and vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 10:15 a.m. PDT, today.

We started 2020 with a pandemic and subsequent, nearly-nationwide shutdown of most businesses and all schools. Just as states started to reopen, a black man (George Floyd) died in the custody of white police officers. People poured into the streets, protesting and rioting, in response. Seattle surrendered six blocks to vigilante demonstrators, who have cordoned off the area, which they claim to be a cop-free zone.

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Flickr a Week 23: ‘Black Lives Matter Protest, Seattle WA’

The series spotlights the current crisis raging across America for the second of three consecutive entries. To recap: Nine days ago, George Floyd died in the custody of Minneapolis police. The Hennepin County corner has certified the death as a homicide, and police officer Derek Chauvin is charged with murder. Since, protests in most major metropolitans are rife with looting, property destruction, and violence.

Black Lives Matter Protest, Seattle WA“, one of a collection of street shots using the same self-title, quite literally illuminates pent-up rage and resentment from some and attempts to create anarchy by others. America is at war, with itself.

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Flickr a Week 22a: ‘I Can’t Breathe’

The entry previously planned for today is now queued for mid-July, which reveals just how far in advance posts are prepared. I made the change around 9 p.m. PDT last evening, to make place for a provocative and timely street portrait by Miki Jourdan. Reason: Protests, riots, looting, and property destruction are underway in major metropolitans across the United States; Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, MinneapolisNew York, and Washington, DC are among them. City-wide curfew is underway in LA, as I write, while Minnesota’s governor has mobilized the National Guard to the Twin Cities.

The incendiary that set the country ablaze was the death of George Floyd, an African-American man arrested six days ago for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill and who died in police custody, while Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the victim’s neck. The tinder is much more than racial tension; many millions of Americans already are frustrated by “stay-at-home” and “social distancing” orders; closing of most businesses and all schools; cancellation of many summer events; and sudden, explosive unemployment—sacrifices meant to slow spread of  SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19. What had been economic and viral pandemics adds another: violence.

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Trump Brings Mayhem to San Diego

The #DumpTrump crowd clashed with the candidate’s supporters here in San Diego this afternoon. Ha! I didn’t know he had come to speak—at the convention center. Trouble started around 4 p.m. local time, following his speech.

I’m more taken back by the police presence than what actually happened. As I write, about two-and-a-half hours later, there are 500 cops in full riot gear and bulletproof vests outside San Diego Convention Center. The area is closed, with an order making it illegal for anyone to remain in the area. Hey, is Trump still around? Run before you get arrested, Donald. 😉 

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Flickr a Day 320: ‘Demonstration Against the Notre Dame des Landes Airport’

We follow up yesterday’s street protest pic with another: Self-titled “Demonstration Against the Notre Dame des Landes Airport”, which Philippe Leroyer captured on Feb. 22, 2014 in Nantes, France. You did not misread—and identify major reason why the photo takes the Day. The raging flames feel wrong given what looks like a war zone but is not. The pic’s composition is excellent and is more dramatic in black and white (see the color companion for comparison).

The violent clash captured by Philippe, a photojournalist, is but one in a series of tense encounters. The airport remains in the news more than 20 months later as a family faces eviction from the home for refusing to vacate lands designated for the facility.