Powerful Images of Protests
Three photographers capture the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Austin
By Vanessa Blankenship and Aaron Parsley
Lead photograph by Hayli Rudolph
Massive protests occurred this weekend in downtown Austin to demand justice for the murders of George Floyd, Michael Ramos and many more who lost their lives to police brutality. The demonstrations started Friday night and continued on Saturday and Sunday as thousands of Austinites surrounded the Austin Police Department headquarters and even closed off parts of I-35 as groups chanted in unison, “I can’t breathe.”
The Austin Justice Coalition, which is one of the local resources Tribeza is using to educate ourselves and stand up against racial injustices, planned to coordinate a Sunday protest with Black Lives Matter Austin but ultimately decided to cancel for Black protestors’ well-being and safety. Still, demonstrations and protests continued.
Local photographers Josiah Jackson, Hayli Rudolph and Leeann Funk took the streets to capture the weekend’s most electrifying moments of strength and hope.
“One moment that really moved me was seeing a Black woman standing to the side of the crowd handing out waters for the protestors,” Rudolph says as she recalls her experience at the protest this past weekend. “She so warmly prayed aloud for the Black lives lost, for the people protesting in their name, while tears ran down her face. A woman on her bike quickly turned around and ran to hug her. It brought tears to my eyes.”
See the most powerful images in our photo gallery below:
Photographs by Josiah Jackson
Masks, megaphones, raised fists, signs and cell phones will be hallmarks of the May 2020 protests when police violence sparked huge demonstrations across the country — despite the coronavirus pandemic that has already killed more than 100,000 Americans.
With protests in more than 100 U.S. cities, the widespread activism across the country is historic in its scope but focused in its message to end violence against Black people at the hands of police officers.
George Floyd died after a police officer put a knee on his neck for almost nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis. One police officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Floyd’s family and many protesters want three other offices involved in the killing to be charged, and for Chauvin’s charges to be revised to reflect an intent to kill.
The raised fist is a symbol of solidarity and support used as a salute to strength, power and resistance in the face of oppression. “We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise,” reads a portion of the Black Lives Matter mission.
Young people made up a large portion of the crowds in Austin. These protesters’ signs read, “Do y’all hear us now,” and “Saying nothing says something.”
Photographs by Leeann Funk
#BlackLivesMatter centers around the pursuit of freedom, liberation and justice for Black people around the world. While recent protests in Austin and across the country are a response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25, the movement began in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman. After fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, but acquitted at trial after claiming self-defense.
Despite ongoing public health concerns due to the spread of COVID-19, protesters poured into the streets of Austin over the weekend to demand an end to the violence inflicted on Black communities by police and others.
Donning masks and carrying signs, the diverse crowd in Austin was unified in their stance against police violence and a demand of justice for George Floyd and other Black Americans killed during encounters with law enforcement officers.
In Austin, demonstrations were largely peaceful. Protesters from all walks of life marched and gathered around the Texas Capitol and Austin City Hall carrying signs and chanting for justice. Similar events took place around the country in dozens of major cities and smaller towns.
Photographs by Hayli Rudolph
In downtown Austin, the Paramount Theatre marquee reads, “Black Lives Matter.” In front of the theater, a protester holds a sign quoting George Floyd, who told police officers, “I can’t breathe,” in the minutes before he died.
Photographer Hayli Rudolph recalled capturing a powerful image of the mostly peaceful protests in Austin this weekend. “One moment that really moved me was seeing a Black woman standing to the side of the crowd handing out waters for the protestors,” Rudolph says. “She so warmly prayed aloud for the Black lives lost, for the people protesting in their name, while tears ran down her face. A woman on her bike quickly turned around and ran to hug her. It brought tears to my eyes.”
Though mostly peaceful, there were tense moments as protesters faced police, and some demonstrations erupted in violence. Here, protestors took a knee in front of riot cops, a powerful and peaceful act to honor George Floyd who died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot declared a state of disaster in Texas on Sunday after violence and destruction of property occurred during a weekend of protest and unrest. Under the declaration, federal agents can be deployed to assist local law enforcement.
Another symbolic gesture among protestors and activists associated with the Black Lives Matter movement is to hold hands up. “Hands up, don’t shoot,” is a common chant at demonstrations.
Protesters gathered in downtown Austin on I-35, stopping traffic over the weekend. Police used smoke and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Outside Austin City Hall, a huge crowd gathered in a powerful moment of support for George Floyd, his family and distraught communities across the U.S.