Concerned community members guard liquor store in Ferguson © Trymaine Lee
Concerned community members guard liquor store in Ferguson © Trymaine Lee


………to anyone who wants to try to commit the offence of looting in Ferguson. These are good people, doing a good thing, in a community they belong to, and care about.


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The stream of images from Ferguson this week has been truly astonishing. The events they portray depressing and, sadly, predictable as the black community yet again confronts the reality of institutionalized oppression, but rarely have I seen it prosecuted with such a show of police force and threat.

All week my inbox has had a stream of images of people holding their hands high in a gesture of ‘surrender’, of teargas being fired by heavily armed Police (and thrown back at them by protestors), snipers on vans, red laser dots on (black) people’s backs, armoured vehicles being deployed, looting and arson, journalists being teargassed deliberately and their camera equipment ‘removed’, and a steady stream of  similar material, culminating in release by the Police of a video still of an alleged robbery in (I assume) ‘justification’ for their use of deadly force in ‘stopping’ the alleged perpetrator. You can read a very good overview in the St Louis American here ‘Why would  Police Chief incite violence on his own streets?’

The fight on the streets may (or may not) be over, but the real fight is just beginning, the propaganda one, as public opinion will be manipulated by those with a lot to lose in their fight against a community that is going to have to fight hard for everything it seeks to gain: justice and respect. And, as always, images will play a huge role in shaping that public opinion.

Hyperallergic carries a good piece that explores the issue of representation and misrepresentation through images: Hashtagging racism: The Power of #IfTheyGunnedMeDown




I wondered about these images:


Concerned community ,members guard Ferguson liquor store © Trymaine Lee
Concerned community members guard Ferguson liquor store © Trymaine Lee


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I wondered how these positive images of a community acting legitimately and responsibly might be misused, and how quickly that would happen, so did a google image search for ‘Ferguson liquor store’ and unsurprisingly, it didn’t take me too long to find this:


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Which image, and article, elicited this:


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 2x4x8 says:

Anyone opening a store in a majority black (67%) town should have their head examined, serious crime risks backed by real statistics should tell you NO. Long ago it was folks that were Jewish taking the risk in the ghetto, now there are more new comer Asian/Korean and Arabs who may not understand the situation of black character and culture.

Whats missing now-a-days is the phrase:

“you can learn the easy way, or the hard way” but you’re gonna learn or it will kill you


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2x4x8 says:

sure could be, only 25% black some 25 years ago, decent folks usually flee from the uncivilized types but some are stuck economically and can’t easily pick up and move

I recall Andy Griffin as a Sheriff without a gun in Mayberry RFD, in a peaceful white community you don’t need military weaponry, immigration has affects on the native culture, as Al Capone, The Godfather and Goodfellas demonstrate an Italian influence

its time for a Saturday night at the movies, watching Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”, where the long time Italian Pizza place gets destroyed after an arrogant black patron espousing Black Power gets killed by the cops who were called to the scene of the confrontation


That’s misrepresentation within 24 hours.

The author doesn’t claim the image used at the top of the article represents ‘crime’ but neither is it clearly stated it is actually ‘crime prevention’ that’s being shown, but the clear inference from the headline is that this image illustrates looting.

You can find the original page here, and do your own search and comparison with the images at top. But to my uneducated eye the group of men in the image accompanying the inflammatory piece above are the same people as in the scene that Trymaine Lee has recorded, the same characters are there – man in baseball cap and white shirt, man with dreadlocks and dark shirt, even the piece of wood on the kerb, the bottles on the ground that could easily roll away, all suggest this is the same place, at the same time.

To try to confirm the authenticity of this scene I looked wider and found this:



In America you are guaranteed freedom of speech, but when, despite all the splendid rhetoric from The Last Refuge, that speech is based on a lie, it has no value and only serves to inflame the situation. But to be fair, maybe TLR misunderstood this image, found it as an ‘orphan’ work shorn of metadata and context, and made an erroneous assumption. Maybe there will be a follow up piece to set the record straight and offer an apology to those pictured whose character has been called into question?

I wonder how, in time, these other images from Ferguson might be misrepresented:

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And just to show what Google images finds when you search for ‘similar images’ to a group of young men standing together, in a pose of ‘solidarity’ in Ferguson and in this instance, protecting their community from criminals (below):


this is what results pretty near the top of the list of returned images: members of the European Stability Initiative:

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Google gets it uncannily accurate, both groups essentially doing the same thing, standing together, promoting stability and security for their communities. The only difference is the colour of their skins.

But don’t let any of this distract you from the issue at hand, it’s not about looting, liquor stores, right wing or left wing rants, it’s about the violent death of a young black man Michael Brown and a community’s need for, and right to, an explanation. And, after all of that, justice.

John MacPherson was born and lives in the Scottish Highlands. He trained as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards, before completing an apprenticeship as a carpenter, and then qualified as a Social Worker in Disability Services. Along the way he has cooked on canal barges, trained as an Alpine Ski Leader & worked as an Instructor for Skiers with disabilities, been a canoe instructor, and tutor of night classes in carpentry, stained glass design and manufacture, and archery. He has travelled extensively on various continents, undertaking solo trips by bicycle, or motorcycle. He has had narrow escapes from an ambush by terrorists, been hit by lightning, caught in an erupting volcano, trapped in a mobile home by a tornado, kidnapped by a dog's hairdresser, rammed by a basking shark and was once bitten by a wild otter. He has combined all this with professional photography, which he has practised for over 35 years. He teaches photography and acts as a photography guide & tutor in the UK and abroad. His biggest challenge is keeping his 27 year old Land Rover 110 on the road. He loves telling and hearing stories.

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