Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 22, 2016

On That Riot Cop/Bus Photo After Police Kill Black Man in Charlotte

photo: Adam Rhew/Charlotte Magazine via Reuters. caption: Police officers wearing riot gear block a road during protests after police fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Charlotte, North Carolina. The city's mayor, Jennifer Roberts, promised a swift investigation into the actions of officer Brentley Vinson, who joined the police department in 2014.

There has already been a flood of protest coverage from North Carolina and Oklahoma over the two most recent police killings of black citizens, particularly the death of Keith Lamont Scott in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Charlotte. Here’s how traditional media is describing it, and here’s the story at The Root. We will be posting more imagery on Twitter and Instagram, and we will feature it on the site in a round up post.

What makes this photo so distinctive, though? There is the anonymous, militaristic and the mechanistic response of the state, of course. More so though, it has to do with the text on the bus. Literally, we know what the phrase means. The bus is out of service for citizen’s use. On another level, though, it’s also a blunt commentary about where we stand in this endless cycle of violence. It’s an organic interpretation, framing the situation as a hardened inevitability because these fatal incidents just don’t stop, in spite of the efforts by earnest and identifiable community leaders, elected and legal officials, as well as law enforcement by the light of day. In short, it says that when we get to this point, it’s far too late. If this kind of action is required, if this is what we’re physically and visually subjected to, if this is what we have to resort to, it is not in the service of anyone — not the public, not the community, not African-Americans, and not the state.

Yes, there are plenty of citizens and agencies and organizations that are in service. But it’s obviously not enough, in terms of practical solutions or moral force, to prevent us from arriving at this both dark and glaring horror over again.

(Photo: Adam Rhew/Charlotte Magazine via Reuters. caption: Police officers wearing riot gear block a road during protests after police fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Charlotte, North Carolina. The city’s mayor, Jennifer Roberts, promised a swift investigation into the actions of officer Brentley Vinson, who joined the police department in 2014.)

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