My interest in documentary and photojournalistic photography began a few years ago with my first documentary photography course in college. Learning about the Works Progressive Administration (WPA) era and the documentary works by Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, and Gordon Parks helped me realize the power a photograph can have and how it can be used to create change by bringing insight into social injustices.
On October 1, 2011, I saw the first video regarding the Occupy Wall St. movement which began on September 17th of the same year—and it was alarming to see the force and brutality expressed by the NYPD towards the peaceful protestors. The video was not on the major news channels but on the social website YouTube. It was then I heard of this new group of people challenging the inequalities in wealth distribution within the United States’ top 1% and the remaining population. I wanted to learn more about these 99%-ers and what they stood for.
In an attempt to learn more, I traveled to Atlanta to document the local general assembly meetings, protests, and actions they performed in solidarity with the OWS. Immediately I became fascinated with the people who made up this eclectic group and called themselves "Occupy Atlanta." As a newcomer, their message was a bit non-cohesive to my ears, but the passion for their convictions was loud and clear - they are tired of having their voices ignored by politicians who pay more interest to corporate demands than their own constituents. They were taking action in response to the growing inequalities in redistribution of wealth between the top 1% of income earners and the rest of the population.
My intent is to capture the essence of the Occupy Atlanta movement through this collection of images. One concern of the Occupy Atlanta movement is housing and predatory loans by banks that were bailed out during the financial crisis by the same people the banks are now throwing onto the streets. A second concern for OA is the job cuts that Atlantans face—for one example, the 700+ AT&T workers that faced termination after the phone company recorded their highest profits of that quarter. Additional issues have included SB 469, a proposed legislation that is commonly called an anti-free speech, anti-union bill; and social issues that target women, LGBT members; and immigration rights.
Since the birth of the movement in September 2011, many have criticized a lack of coordination and a list of demands from the protestors. While the movement may not be completely cohesive in its message, it clearly expresses frustration with a broken political, judicial, and social system. Ultimately, they are expressing their constitutional right to demonstrate anger and discontent with the current political and social injustices in the United States—and who can argue with someone trying to make the world a better place?