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October 29, 2011

Occupy Denver: “Normalizing” the Robo-Cops, and More Fuel for the “Violent Protester” Meme

If the photos from Occupy Denver Saturday night serve a constructive function, it’s to establish that Oakland was not an anomaly. Employing pepper spray, rubber bullets and also tearing down Occupy tents outside the state Capitol and the Civic Center, the Denver police seemed to be following the same template. It would be a tragic thing for the movement if these images led to “the normalization” of such scenes and the routine engagement of riot/robo-cops by the state — but they very well might.

I also post three photos out of the Denver Post’s 55 picture slideshow here for cautionary reasons. With some media quick to visually propagate the notion of violent tendencies at the core of Occupy, I was especially concerned about this particular photo:

It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see this image showing up on right-wing sites or in the traditional media as evidence of the movement’s violent tendencies, especially in light of this caption:

Denver Police Officer struggles on the ground with protesters during the Occupy Denver protest in Denver, CO, Saturday, October 29, 2011. Occupy Denver protesters and law enforcement officers faced off on the steps of the state Capitol and Civic Center this afternoon after protesters marched through downtown Denver for the fourth week in a row.

Before concluding that this cop has been attacked by protesters, however, a little context is in order. Not that it’s provided by the slideshow, but it would be helpful to consider that last shot in the context of this one (as well as to consider all three photos in this post as a group):

In terms of their order of appearance in the Denver Post slide show, by the way — at least as I’m writing this late Saturday night —  I should add that the first photo in this post leads off the slideshow while the second is #23 and this third photo is #35. Here’s the caption accompanying this picture:

A police officer goes after a protestor after he wouldn’t give up a tent while the police were tearing down tents in Civic Center Park Oct. 29, 2011. Police and Occupy Denver protestors clashed after a peaceful march through Denver that ended at the State Capitol Building with a standoff. Seven were arrested by early evening.

I can’t say for sure what the correct sequence was (I’m assuming they appear here, and in the Denver Post slideshow, in reverse chronological order), but if you consider them together along with the caption data, the cop clearly seems the aggressor, the protesters mostly passive and possibly engaged, in the middle shot, in fighting over the tent. (Notice also, how the copy is going for his weapon when he’s on the ground.) Perhaps the most significant point, however, is just how much muscle he had alongside him to maintain the upper hand (as well as the larger context, which you can appreciate viewing the entire slideshow, of the police first confronting the protesters, and then tearing up the place).

Note: Each of these photos expands to larger size.  See the entire Denver Post slideshow (“Occupy Denver protesters face off with police – Saturday, October 29, 2011″) here.

(photos: Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post caption 1: Police raise weapons while making an arrest during the Occupy Denver protest in Denver, CO, Saturday, October 29, 2011. Occupy Denver protesters and law enforcement officers faced off on the steps of the state Capitol and Civic Center this afternoon after protesters marched through downtown Denver for the fourth week in a row.)

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