May 19, 2016

About that Striking Overhead Photo from a Manhattan Shooting

plattys1Police surround the body of a man killed in a police involved shooting this morning in Manhattan. #gettyimages #NYPD #gettyimagesnews #streetphotography #crime
If you click through the slideshow at The Daily News, you’ll notice that the visuals, with the exception of those capturing the scene from overhead, are hardly notable. Reactions to the photo on Spencer Platt’s Instagram feed, on the other hand, use word statements like “amazing” or “unbelievable.” That doesn’t tell us why, though.

If you asked me why, I would say:

Because, the arrangement of the police feels so ceremonial.

Because of the impressive degree of witnessing.

Because of the power of a circle.

Because we are privy to the inside.

Because of the color: Because the red is so vivid. And because of that stunning white chain. What is actually a common mattress at ground level almost looks like fabric from above. A stretch of fabric. Like a wedding train.


So, that’s what I wrote before I re-read the caption — before I realized this was a “police-involved” shooting.

All of a sudden, they’re just mattresses — as well as a wall.

Color-wise, murder and gun violence as a national disease makes me see red, white and blue.

With the blood flowing in two distinct paths across the pavement, the containment seems as much political as humanitarian.

That hand on the shoulder, too, assumes different implications. Less about connection; more about management.

And the allusion to a wedding? Seems I made a very wrong stop on the circle of life.


So, that’s what I wrote just before I googled the incident. After reading that the shooting was justified, taking place in a busy Theater District during the morning rush hour, I have to look again.

(photo: Spencer Platt or plattys1/Instagram. caption: Police surround the body of a man killed in a police involved shooting this morning in Manhattan.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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