Shutting Down Hate: Right-wing Nationalists Retreat in the 2nd Battle of Berkeley

On Sunday, August 27th a right-wing nationalist rally was scheduled to happen at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, in Berkeley’s civic center.  The planned hate party was cancelled last minute over “safety” concerns from its organizers.   The same predicament had played out the day before in San Francisco, where the organized response to a similar planned rally prompted thousands to march and openly denounce bigotry, racism, and organized hate in their city.  What was sensationalized and projected to be a violent weekend of clashes with white nationalists and a left of center responses became an overwhelming, unified response against the hate espoused by neo-Nazis, white Nationalists, and  conservative xenophobes from the San Francisco and East Bay community.

Given the outcome of the first battle in Berkeley on April 26th earlier this year and the rage prompted by Charlottesville a few weeks ago, I anticipated a strong response from the Antifa factions that were humiliated as they were punched, kicked, and run out of the  civic center last April.  Numerous response rallies marched to what many might have imagined was going to be a Berkeley civic center crawling with hate-groups and angry far-Right wingers by late afternoon.  What they found was the remnants of a loud, and often volatile debate on hate.  Although hate-groups passed on showing up, individuals whose Right-wing, racist convictions are strong enough to risk the public ridicule made their presence known.  Just like in Charlottesville, those who came defending far-Right ideas and Trump’s hate mongering agenda were debated, shouted at, and ultimately run out of the grounds.

Exiting the park I had heavy feeling in my heart that had me thinking of Dr. King.  Although the rage and indignity arises from love, I couldn’t help but to feel the ruse of power among us.  I felt no one won that day.  That’s the tragedy of it all. The powder keg was lit in Charlottesville, the clown President gave the flame oxygen, and now we have more tragedy ahead of us.

Interesting times for my camera’s lens, but such a sad state of affairs in the nation.

RIP Heather Heyer.

— JMG, Berkley CA

 

 

 

 

Oakland by Night: A Photographic Profile of Oakland’s First Friday Art Walk

My love for low light photography and street photography draws me into the night, camera in hand, consistently.  The aim is always to brush up with Brassai and show Oakland’s nocturnal aura. Paris isn’t Oakland and Oakland isn’t Paris. The sleepy romantic secrets of Brassaï’s Paris are far from Oakland’s open air creative culture, its “on fleek” style, and its hyphee movements.

Solace in Community: Oakland Mourns Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire Victims

On Friday, December 2nd, 36 people lost their life in a deadly fire at an artist live/work warehouse space know as the Ghost Ship in Oakland’s Fruitvale District.  A night of celebration turned tragic at the warehouse when a fire broke out trapping dozens inside. This set documents the community’s overwhelming sense of loss and their need to express it.

 

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

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Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

Untitled (Oakland de luto set), Oakland CA, Winter 2016.

Portrait of a Chinatown Pop-up Grocer

 

Oakland’s Chinatown is all about getting a bargain on fresh food. Close enough to the Port of Oakland and Oakland’s central produce market, you can’t beat the prices on fresh greens, pork, poultry, or fresh sea food (from cat fish to eel).

Lately I have been preoccupied, pondering why photography seems to gravitate to these ethnic enclaves.  One can read Chinatown photographs as a kind of internal travel photography that at some level objectifies the subjects it captures.   Weary of a enacting the colonial gaze, I battle with my desire to shoot as an outsider.

This shot illustrates the enxiety I articulate above because I wanted to make a portrait of this friendly pope up fruit seller as she seemed friendly enough but everytime I pointed that lens at her she raised her hand as if saying hello, but blocking her face on purpose.  After the fourth click I realized that was the shot: her clean, tighty fruit set up wating for the next customer to sell her hadnful of goods. I like the shot becasue it was clear it was ok for me to the shot, but it needed to be done on her terms, stripping away the power of the camera and a potential colonial gaze.

I began this series because more and more, this corner of Oakland is becoming dear to me and I fear that it is only a matter of time before the seachange that is rapidly transforming the cityscape also claims Chinatown for the sake if new luxury development.  It’s only a matter of time, thus the Chinatown Hustle series seeks to document it’s working life and people.

 

–JMG

Portrait of a Bay Area Freedom Fighter

Oakland has a long, deep tradition of activism. From the Black Panthers to the Black Block of the occupy movement to the most recent Black Lives Matters movement,

strong advocates for common humanity make Oakland home. As an observer of the city’s movements for the last decade, Pancho stands out as a figure reminiscent of Mario Salvio who doesn’t hold back to speak truth to power. He carries a flag imprinted with a globe because universal human rights is his cause.

On this day he was happy to meet Bobby Seale, who graciously granted I take a portrait of them together. I meant for this shot to have historical significance as it shows the penthouse that Huey P. Newton lived at when we was finally exonerated from attempt of murder charges in his infamous 1968 case.

Pancho reminds me of one of those prophets in Biblical time whose commitment to truth and justice defines his conviction to refuse excess, rely on the bare essentials to finds rightiousness.  I love that the camera reveals these figures to me as I realize that without it I would miss the Ghaindi’s and King’s around me.

–JMG

Cheap Thrills

It’s amazing how much fun a kid can have with a hill and a bit of space to run on.

I like how the only person aware of the lens happens is kind of shy, yet friendly. We can’t tell if the mother is totally unaware or if she is also totally enjoying the cheap thrills being had just above her.

I happened to be moving around this day from an estuary clean up to a visit to an Outdoor Afro program out on Oakland’s Lake Merritt when I saw the kids taking turns making a roller coaster out of the steep ground. Covering this much ground yields little gems like this.

— JMG

OLYMPUS MIRORLESS DIGITAL, M5 (ISO 200 / f.5.6 / 1/4000)

Waiting

Some say bus stops are excellent spaces to photograph people in their urban environment. The Bay Area has ferry stops too.

Like bus stops, waiting for the next one forces riders to slow down. If you look close enough, you’ll notice that waiting can turn into a siesta sometimes. Who needs a bed when you have grassy shade to nap on?

— JMG

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, ISO 100/ 1/640 / f. 11