This series is from my first official photo day-trip taken on June 22nd, 2020. It was a fragile summer that began with the deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hand of law enforcement, a scenario our country seems to be all too familiar with.
I had walked to Lafayette Square a day before, moved by the positive air. It had been full of children, pets, art, and music that had provoked movement from soulful bodies. But on this specific day, the 22nd, there was something thick hanging over. This day, I turned the street expecting to see the same level of energy but instead was met with an endless parade of police, lined up, attempting to push out those who had made home out of this new autonomous zone. The efforts, however, were met with very little success, as people continued to grill food and do what they had been doing prior to law enforcement arriving. The police decided to temporarily leave the scene, the result having been people celebrating while others quietly looked on, seemingly deep in thought.
There was a tension that I had only felt as a child, specifically the hour before my dad would officially become intoxicated and my mom irritated by his noise booming from our basement. This type of tension was the kind of tension felt in the moments leading the spark to the end of a dynamite stick. The tension stayed and was fueled by those who were anticipating the worst. This was the evening the Andrew Jackson statue was met with cold chain and thick rope, a move that would cause police to step in with aggression. I was high off of the adrenalin pulsating from those around me, causing my brain to essentially turn off any function outside of photographing. I felt that people should see this, people needed to understand that history could only ever repeat itself and the proof was forever offering. These moments captured tell a story of those led on by the corruption of their own system, those who have pleading requests in their eyes for some type of standstill, some type of peace that can replace the pattern of pain we’ve come to know.
About Cassidy Best
When I lost my job in March due to the pandemic, I fell into some type of depression that I didn’t at the time recognize. Unemployment made me feel horrible and the loneliness was caving into the confusion of everything happening outside. My mother lives in a different country for work and my father stopped being a father in 2002, though, they didn’t separate until much later. There were things I wanted to scream, but I felt like I didn’t have anyone who actually cared to listen, and I still think that holds true. We have individual lives with so much traffic, how could we be so invested in others torments? Feeling like I was staring down into a deep, vast, dark tube with no end in view, I had to fill what I did not comprehend. I’ve always loved photography, however I was deprived of it comes up. My brothers both took the class in high school, but didn’t invest themselves the way my parents invested in their cameras. So when I came to that age and also wanted to take up photography, I was told “no”.
I think it was purely due to financial struggles and the carelessness that had been displayed previously surrounding the subject. So, I was left with an iPhone camera that never really caught what I saw myself. Three months into the pandemic, I stayed up late one night thinking about the photography class I never took, tossing it over in my head and contemplating whether or not to make such a purchase in a critical time like now, a time where my job was gone and motivation shot. Four in the morning while holding my breath, I took the leap. The days leading up to the delivery of my camera burn into my brain. I was transported back to 1999, the early state of pure bliss during Christmas, that emotion of uncontrollable eagerness. The pandemic brought on devastation of all sorts of magnitude, but in ways, it also brought on a push that I had never been grounded enough to take. Would I have photographed eventually if a pandemic hadn’t hit? Probably. So soon? Probably not. I have chosen to embrace my line of life.