Shooting Teabaggers: Impressions From Behind a Camera

| 4/20/2010 5:03:23 PM

I spent tax day with anti-tax protesters at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. It was my first attempt at covering an event like that, so I arranged to meet up with my friend Lanny Linehan, a more experienced documentary photographer (see Linehan’s work at his Flickr page).

On my way to meet Lanny, I wandered through the vending area. I was drawn to a table with a sign that read “Sign up here to win a framed American flag signed by Michele Bachmann.” I asked if I could take a photo of the sign. One of the two guys at the table asked me which “side” I was on. I said I was on my side. He challenged me again, suspicious of my stance. I said something about nothing being black and white and he showed me the gun tucked into his pants. “Why don’t you take a picture of this?” he asked. “Sure, I’d love to,” I said, “why don’t you sit by the sign.” That wasn’t the answer he expected. “You better do it, you offered,” said his friend, laughing. So he posed for me—my first photo of the day.

Next I found a vendor selling “organic freeze-dried food” meal packs that last three years—you know, just in case. Their “sample girls” were more than happy to pose for a photo. There were free samples, but no thanks. When I found Lanny, he recommended I try to “blend in.” He had attended the same anti-tax rally last year and said it was a very hostile environment.

4/22/2010 7:57:01 AM

I like it when Americans engage in the political process. Dissent is often the most visible engagement. Yet I am reminded today, Earth Day, of the power of being _for_ something. What was once a "hippie holiday" has become a world-wide force for making the Earth a better place.

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