Aaron Godwin went to an anti-trump rally on the night of the election.
Here’s his poignant photo-story:
“Downtown Oakland, 15th & Broadway: A fiery speech invokes the people’s passion of demonstrations. Middle fingers and raised fists become the mascots of the night. Baseball-style chants echo through the streets “hey hey, whoa whoa, Donald Trump has got to go” and so on. I’ve witnessed this scene before and what will follow it is clear.”
“Chinatown. Shop owners close up and lock their storefronts, recording those who walk by as looting and destruction during these events is not new to them. The Chinese are imperturbable and long-established. Pictured a man holds a sign in front of shop owners which reads, “I choose Autonomy”. I see this and wait for the masked men; I don’t see them but I know they are coming. I want there to be enough space between these characters. The streets are too crowded to move, like gridlocked traffic with protestors replacing cars. So I shoot, for me this is a photograph.”
“The first fully blocked intersection and clash with the police. Bottles are being thrown and landing inches from me. Fireworks are being shot towards the police line. I am between this guy here and the police a few feet behind me. He covers his face as I raise my camera. The man with his ass exposed but no face. Others have their faces covered as seen with more “useful” gear.”
“Burning trash in the middle of Broadway. The strategy is to set bonfires as they make it harder for the police to advance because the firefighters need protection from the police in order to douse the fires. The fires also disrupt the police formation lines, making them lose a crucial left or right flank. A certain confrontation if Oakland PD were to advance.”
“A moment of “us or them”. I’m interested in their anger, their displacement, and dissidence. I feel on edge, but calm, as I look through my viewfinder. It’s like I’m in the middle of a movie. Maybe a detached way of thinking but the kind of scene that seems too surreal to believe. Pictured is the man slightly out of focus, as if you were trying to recall a memory or imagine a setting so aberrant”.
“Some of the final moments before police heavily reinforce their lines bringing 14 other local Police Departments into the area. The bonfire grows considerably within a few minutes. People throw spray paint cans and fireworks into the flames, they explode. Police are advancing two blocks (to the right of the picture) and slowly developing a line about a block from where I am standing. I see this magnificent scene and wait for the right character. I don’t have long, my eyes are burning from the continuous stream of tear gas grenades that are thrown into the crowd and thrown back at the police. Finally, he appears, I shoot once, twice, and a few more times. I don’t use continous or burst modes—I don’t like it. I prefer the thrill of aiming, focusing, and shooting. For me this a photograph and a statement.”
Aaron Godwin is 22. His style is highly influenced by William Klein and Daido Moriyama. Klein’s photos of “Gun 1 and 2” were the first true fine art street photos he had ever seen. His passion has always been in street photography, and now photo journalism as well. His end goal is to photograph conflict or war zones.