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25 Photos From L.A. That Capture the Hope and Heartbreak of 2021

Photojournal by Ted Soqui

Published on

2021 was supposed to be better, more unified, less disrupted. We hoped it would be a year of healing, a resolution for our many conflicts. Yet it began with protests and clashes with police that echoed the previous year in disturbing new ways. We continued losing some of who — and what — we were to a mutating virus and searing social divisions. Our pandemic recovery was uneven, with steps forward, and others back. It tried our patience, and still does. Through those events and many others, I tried to capture salient images of what turned out to be another tense, tumultuous year.

A pro-Trump Jan. 6, 2021, rally is about to get rowdy in Downtown Los Angeles. Pro-Trump and Antifa protesters attack each other with sticks, knives and pepper spray. Amid the confrontation, I spent more time dodging attacks and pepper spray than taking photos, while police officers detained protesters from both sides. Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., protesters stoked up by President Trump over the recent presidential election results pushed past Capitol Police and invaded the U.S. Capitol building while politicians and staff cowered inside.

The Los Angeles Dodgers honored longtime former manager Tommy Lasorda soon after he passed away. His jersey number — 2 — was laid on Dodger Stadium’s center field. (1/8/2021)

One of the many small celebrations of the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, this one near City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. (1/20/2021)

Angelenos line up in their vehicles for COVID-19 vaccinations in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The stadium became one of the world’s largest inoculation sites until it was shut down before the middle of the year. (2/4/2021)

With tens of thousands of people living on the streets of Los Angeles, a tiny-homes village in North Hollywood opens and takes in dozens of people. This housing aims to be a transitional step for residents toward permanent housing and self-sufficiency. (2/26/2021)

A mural commemorates those who died from COVID-19 in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Each red rose is made of weatherproof felt to represent a life lost. (3/5/2021)

LAPD officers and protesters face off before a clash on Sunset Boulevard as the Echo Park Lake grounds are cleared of a large, elaborate homeless encampment. For photographers, it was a long night, as we tried to avoid harm from both police and protesters. (3/26/2021)

A message on the corner of Florence and Normandie on Verdict Day in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who choked the life out of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests. (South Los Angeles, 4/20/2021)

At a White Lives Matter march in Huntington Beach, a small contingent of white supremacists is met by a large counterprotest. (4/11/2021)

Unhoused residents of Echo Park move into city-owned parking lots where a white, automobile-sized rectangle is the personal space allotted for each individual. The fenced lot promises food, restroom facilities and security. (4/27/2021)

Work begins on the new 6th Street Bridge, which will add a new connection between East Los Angeles and Downtown. (5/2/2021)

Troy “the Cat-Man,” a self-proclaimed nomad who lives in a van with several pet felines, says they usually sleep in city-owned parks at night. While I was taking pictures of an empty parking lot, Troy came up and introduced himself and his cats. They made for a much better photograph. (Griffith Park, 5/5/2021)

The Standard Hotel’s pool deck as seen from a drone camera above. Once considered one of Los Angeles’ hippest hotels — with the blue astroturf pool area providing lively party spots — the hotel shut down due to the economic disruption of COVID-19. (West Hollywood, 5/9/2021)

The face of a woman concentrating on the drums she bangs in South Los Angeles at the first official celebration of Juneteenth, which marks Black emancipation in the United States after the Civil War. On June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas — which had been part of the Confederate States of America — and enforced Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, requiring the freeing of all slaves in the U.S. (Leimert Park, 6/19/2021)

With little rain during the winter of 2020-21, drought conditions visibly diminish the flow of water from the local mountains. (San Gabriel River, 6/24/2021)

An LAPD officer takes partial cover as a bomb squad attempts to blow up a large cache of illegal explosives in South Los Angeles. They ended up blowing up their own million-dollar bomb disposal vehicle and damaging several cars and homes. (7/1/2021)

Smoke from wildfires blots out the sun and turns the skies dark orange above the Griffith Park Observatory. (9/23/2021)

The Port of Los Angeles switched to 24/7 operations due to a shipping backlog. I was leaving the port after an afternoon of photography and saw the changing light in the sky in my rearview mirror, so I turned the car around and shot this image. (9/30/2021)

Oil and seawater gather behind a containment boom off the coast of Huntington Beach following a crude oil spill from a broken underwater pipeline that marred the beach and critical wildlife marshlands. (10/4/2021)

Transgender employees and allies at Netflix in Hollywood stage a walkout and rally against the recent airing of a controversial Dave Chappelle comedy special that they consider transphobic. (10/20/2021)

IATSE union members hold a candlelight vigil in Burbank to remember the life of Halyna Hutchins, a cinematographer and mother who was shot and killed in an accident involving a prop gun held by actor and producer Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rush.” (10/24/2021)

People against various vaccine safety measures in schools and elsewhere hold a rally in front of Los Angeles City Hall. Some called for an end to mandatory vaccinations for city and county employees. Many protesters were from communities outside of Los Angeles, including the Simi and Antelope valleys. Some of the protesters mocked me by making sheep noises because I was wearing a N95 face mask. I pointed to one of their protest signs that read, “My body, my choice.” (11/8/2021)

Fans and supporters of Britney Spears gather in Downtown L.A. to celebrate her freedom from a court-mandated conservatorship. The #FreeBritney movement grew from a small fan base to a nationwide movement calling for an end to unfair conservatorships. (11/12/2021)

26,661 white flags — each one representing a life lost to COVID-19 in L.A. County — fly on the lawn outside the Griffith Observatory. (11/17/2021)

Los Angeles City Hall is lit in blue light to memorialize Angelenos who lost their lives to COVID-19 as part of a three-day virtual event named “Strength and Love.” (11/18/2021)

All Photographs by Ted Soqui

Copyright Capital & Main 2021