At the Black Lives Matter Protests in NYC: A Photo Essay

Rachel Cobb Documents 10 Days in the Streets of New York

In the days following the killing of George Floyd by white policeman Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis on May 25, protests erupted across the US and many parts of the world. After weeks of Covid-19 confinement, hundreds of thousands poured into the streets to express their outrage, to demand police reforms, and to fight for social justice. I’ve been documenting this moment.

–text and photos by Rachel Cobb

Ibrahim Diop, 20, at a rally in Washington Square Park, June 6, 2020 “The principles of how this country was founded—the stolen land, the people who were stolen from Africa—this country is rooted in racism. I would like everyone to be aware of the skeletons they’re walking on.”

Jada Cooper, 20, at the Memorial Prayer for George Floyd, Cadman Plaza, June 4, 2020: “We’re tired of our youth being afraid of cops—our people dying, our youth dying. Our boys need to be able to make mistakes.”

Protestor arrested in Lower Manhattan, May 29, 2020

Minutes before 8 pm curfew begins, police watch protestors at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, June 6, 2020.

Marie Blanchard, 34, at the Memorial Prayer for George Floyd: “The whole world is screaming and crying for the same things we’ve been saying for generations.”

March past Trump Tower, Columbus Circle, Manhattan, May 30, 2020.

Justin Maffett, 26, says “the 1033 program is probably the most significant vehicle for fueling the militarization of police in America that you have never heard of. It is directly responsible for putting weapons, machinery, equipment and technology made for the war zone on American streets. Write to your congressman and demand that they defund and eliminate the 1033 program.”

A protestor faces the police at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan. May 29, 2020.

Diana Rose, 48, says “a badge does not give you the right to murder. Any cop that has a history of abuse should be put in a database of priors.”

Times Square, May 30, 2020.

Jibrill Morris, 26, at the Memorial Prayer for George Floyd: “I have five younger siblings and I promise they will not have to face the injustices I have. Not one more.”

Heidi G., 31, would like to see “police reform [that] would include the repeal of article 50-A that makes it so that police misconduct records are confidential unless you go through court order. If that’s repealed, the public would have access to the records. And more support for the police—mental health checks.”

On the first weekend after George Floyd’s murder, New Yorkers protested throughout the city. Some demonstrations turned violent and dozens of police vehicles were burned. May 30, 2020.

Anthony, a retired policeman hired as a security guard at the Soho Louis Vuitton store calls for police backup. May 31, 2020.

Outside Louis Vuitton store, Soho, Manhattan May 31, 2020.

Union Square, Manhattan May 30, 2020.

Police arrive late to the scene in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan. In New York City, as elsewhere, the majority of protests have been peaceful, however, in the first few days, rage sometimes gave way to destruction. Soho, May 31, 2020.

Bobby C., 37: “I would like to see police reform nationwide, accountability for police who use excessive force. I believe the arrest of four officers in the George Floyd case was the beginning. Systematic reform is needed nationwide.”

Andrew Akinmola, 16: “Any time a black person steps outside of their house, they’re immediately accused whereas a white person is free to do anything they want.”

At 10:33, two and a half hours after curfew was imposed on New York City, a white man jogs past a dozen police cars on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. June 4, 2020

Michael Thomas, 53, hopes that “white America hears our voice. You don’t have to dehumanize a person to lock them up. You can still do it with their dignity intact.”

Protestor arrested in Lower Manhattan, May 29, 2020

Nysheva-Starr, 43, at a protest at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, would like to see “the implementation of a policy that will hold officers accountable whenever they take a life.” June 6, 2020.

Rebecca Oginni, 32, at the Memorial Prayer for George Floyd: “I realize how powerful the police unions are. I want people to absolutely demand transparency in their local communities from their local police department.”

Isaiah D., 25, the Memorial Prayer for George Floyd, hopes “that we can imagine a better world is possible and we can collectively manifest that world.”

Paulette P., 82, waits for a bus to take her to lower Manhattan, so she can join a protest, 10:05 PM, June 7, 2020. “After the 60s we saw some change. I was in Paris in 1968 on the Left Bank when they were protesting and throwing paving stones. My wish is that this will never happen again.”

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All photos ©2020RachelCobb; @rachelcobbphoto.

Rachel Cobb
Rachel Cobb
Rachel Cobb is a photographer who lives in New York City. She has worked for numerous publications including The New York Times, Time magazine and Rolling Stone magazine. Her award-winning book Mistral: The Legendary Wind of Provence was published by Damiani in 2018. You can find her on the web at @rachelcobbphoto.





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