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i’m not too sure when the last time a protest could be called ‘successful’ in the usa, but it probably hasn’t been in my lifetime. i would also wager that among the general public, the definition of a successful protest would have a significant range of differences. i’m not sure what the majority of protesters would call the goal of tonight—the various demonstrations across the country in response to the supreme court overturning roe are probably just general outrage, not intending a specific outcome. but what about tomorrow? next year?

modern protesting is predictable. there are allowed-for routes, there are unbelievably heavy police response units. there is tear gas & there are face masks. there are cardboard signs, marching chants, helicopters. most anything dangerous happens after dark. arrests are made, the police do as they please.

this is how it’s been since my first protest—the global anti-war march that did absolutely nothing to stop the war. there’ve been countless since. none have resulted in any change (other than the police becoming more armed over time). they might as well have been fucking parades.

something like that · los angeles, 2020

the first indignation i read after the verdict was released rallied against bernie sanders & those who voted for him, as if we were all justices on the bench. it’s one of the main reasons i didn’t go out to the streets this time around—in multiple ways, it’s not really my place.

politics isn’t just a two-way street, no matter what american propaganda would have us believe. just because my ideals interact with liberalism that ‘abortion should not be illegal’ doesn’t mean i consider pro-choice voters on my team. a slight overlap on a venn diagram is not the same thing as an identical match. i hope now the more mainstream voices in american media will start treating the socialists & liberals as groups of the electorate that are quite different. (& hopefully liberals realize that the socialists & leftists are not actually like them, but rather believe in a fundamentally different structure of society. maybe it can get rid of the confusion by the next election.)

i normally do enjoy taking photographs at protests, but this time around it just seemed wrong. a substantial amount of people there wouldn’t believe the things i do & i’d just be using the chance as a personal opportunity instead of sharing space to achieve a goal. i’m eager to hear how this plays out, though at this point i’m not betting on more than a couple days of being placated before the media re-focuses on war or gas prices.

this was easily predictable, if only because the decision was leaked months ago. the democrats had power & a chance, yet did nothing. that’s where it is at, that’s where it’s always been at, and that’s how it always will be. at some point protest itself must evolve, but until then this is all a bit cringe.

i never saw judas & the black messiah in theaters due to it unfortunately being one of the films released when the pandemic was in full force, so i watched the premiere on hbo max. then i watched it again. and again. and again. and again.

even though this is about events in the late 1960s, it feels prescient—had covid not been a factor, it would have opened in the usa amidst the black lives matter uprising of 2020. but it also could have been released any year before or since & still felt completely relevant—a fact that in & of itself is a tragedy.

for the weekend of juneteenth, amc re-released this as ‘fan favorite’ film. the ability to watch this on the big screen was like seeing it for the first time all over. i like seeing movies in a theater because for the good ones, the emotion in the room is palpable—in this one, it was silent & heavy. no words were spoken as the audience slowly walked back to the hallway. everyone in the room had just experienced something that felt above a dialogue, because it is the dialogue.

today marks two years since the murder of george floyd. there aren’t many headlines about it, given what happened yesterday. even though i’ve seen no articles about it, there certainly is a common thread through both of these horrific incidents: the gutless & self-interested nature of police.

here’s an account of how the police acted prior to the massacre in uvalde yesterday, via the new york times:

The Uvalde Police Department then received a call about a crashed vehicle and an individual with a weapon making his way to the school, Lt. Olivarez said.

Law enforcement officials who arrived at the school and tried to enter the building were met with gunfire by the suspected gunman, he said.

“Some of those officers were shot, so at that point they began breaking windows around the school, trying to evacuate children, teachers, anybody they could trying to get them out of that building, out of that school,” Lt. Olivarez said.

so these officers, who were apparently well enough to break windows, decided to stay outside the school when they knew someone was inside murdering children. their initial excuse was the gunman was wearing a significant amount of body armor—which is actually not true at all.

to me, the way firefighters walk into a burning building should be the standard for all public safety. cops should walk into a school when they know someone is inside with a gun. if they die, they die ‘heroes.’ but to prevent the deaths of children seems like it should be priority #1.

but the cops wouldn’t enter a school & risk a gunfight to try & save the lives of those kids. who knows if they actually would or could have, but isn’t that the whole point of the police? so after a massacre, the families of the dead can be consoled by the idea that at least everyone did their job & there was no chance their kids could still be alive?

The writing on the wall · Portland, 2020

two years ago, we saw the same gut-wrenching indifference to life in derek chauvin holding his knee on the neck of george floyd for eight minutes & forty-six seconds. we all saw it in broad daylight, where chauvin didn’t even care he was being filmed murdering a man. this was just short of six years from the last time a black man was killed by a police officer on camera in broad daylight whose last words were “i can’t breathe,” when daniel pantaleo choked eric garner to death on staten island.

floyd, knowingly or not, used a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. eric garner was approached by police, suspected of selling single cigarettes. these men were murdered on camera for no other reason than the cops were that confident in being able to get away with it.

the writing on the wall is clear. it’s covered in the names of the dead, proof of a failed state. proof that abolition of the police is necessary or fascism is inevitable. the victims of police violence are erased from walls, pushed out of the news cycle. the radio might note the killing of 12-year-old tamir rice every 22nd of november & move on to the daily report on the status of the stock market. we’re all witness to it, yet somehow divided on the value of a life. capitalism is going to kill us all.

i’ve been struggling in aa meetings today. we’re supposed to accept all in recovery, and while i know it’s a character defect to be dealt with in the seventh step, i just can’t. i want those cops to be alcoholics & i want them to drink themselves to death. being a cop is a choice. making decisions while on duty is a choice. and it’s hard to reconcile that picking up a bottle is as well. i don’t want those guys to recover from anything. i hope the blood on their hands haunts them into darkness forever. i hope they choke.

Colin Smith (b. 1982) works in a form of assembly within and across disciplines, both in digital and analogue formats. Following in the ideas of media theorist Marshall McLuhan, the medium of his work is often dictated by its message—the diversity of projects that result are each an attempt to represent a particular thesis, a certain context.

Educated in graphic design and photojournalism, and self-taught in the visual arts, Smith has additionally worked as an art director, freelance designer or creative consultant for a variety of small businesses and independent clients around the world.

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