May 2, 2020

In Lansing COVID Protest, Hate in the Smaller Details

In Lansing COVID Protest, Hate in the Smaller Details

It’s an interesting detail captured by photographer Seth Herald in Lansing. While police defend the governor and the Michigan State Capitol from screaming, threatening, anti-lockdown protesters, many of them wielding semi-automatic weapons, one of those “very good people” photographs an officer’s badge and badge number.

I’ve seen this action in many news photos when police, especially riot cops, become violent with citizens, but never the other way around. In this case, it captures a different reflex: the projection of hate and paranoia in a way that assumes that the strict but protective coronavirus restrictions are themselves a form of violence.

Consistent with the terror and the menacing, I think we can safely say the gesture implicates the aggressive ones more. Or, as photographer Craig Ruttle commented about the action on Herald’s feed: “So what will that protestor do with that?”

–Michael Shaw

Photo: Photo by Seth Herald /Reuters

Caption: A protester takes a photo of a Michigan State Policeman’s badge number after protesters occupied the capitol building during a vote to approve the extension of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declaration/stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan, U.S. April 30, 2020. This is the world during coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Michael Shaw
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