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Los Angeles in Turmoil: Images from a Crisis

Photojournal by Ted Soqui

Editor’s Note: Ted Soqui is a photographer equally at home covering strikes, elections, social upheavals and wildfires. In the photos and comments that follow, he records a few days and nights in the life of Los Angeles as it once more resounded with the chants of protest while wreathed in smoke.

This was shot downtown on the Wilshire Blvd. overpass, above the 110 Freeway. The police had just arrested this protester and tried to take him in. The cop below began tracking me with his rubber projectile gun. I moved left and right, he kept me in sight and I kept my lens on him. Figured I would at least get a photo of the cop who shot me. Meanwhile a CHP trooper shot at me with pepper rounds. Had to go home smelling like pepper spray.

Shot this photo with a zoom lens on the Fourth St. overpass above the 110 Freeway as protesters lit fireworks on it. They also set up wooden barricades blocking the freeway. I wanted to get closer but fears of contracting COVID kept me back – I think it worked out better, photographically.

I was perched on Fourth Street overpass above the 110 Freeway in downtown LA. I brought a 100-400mm zoom lens to photograph the protest -- I didn’t want to get too close to the action because of COVID fears. As police were clearing protesters from the freeway, I saw a group of officers walking down the road as they were lit up by headlights of cars. The light felt very cinematic, like a scene from L.A. Confidential.

Took this photo in the Trader Joe’s parking lot on Third St. near Fairfax Ave. LAPD officers set up a thin blue line as a police cruiser burns. I was struck by how surreal the protest had become. I had been at this Trader Joe’s earlier in the week buying groceries.

Photographed this at Third St. and Fairfax Ave. Parts of this crowd had just destroyed 14 cop cars and set one car on fire. Had to photograph their hands.

An LAPD cruiser, set on fire on the corner of Fairfax Ave. and Beverly Blvd. Images like this were becoming the new normal to me during this protest.

This woman decided to come up to the Fairfax District to volunteer and clean up looting damage on Fairfax Blvd. She was scraping off paint with her finger nails and rubbing alcohol. Was amazed by the turnout of volunteers that wanted to help out local business owners.

Protesters shook hands with California National Guardsmen near L.A. City Hall. This was peace in the eye of the storm.

I was leaving the protest in downtown, when I saw a group of California Guardsman on the corner of Temple and Main streets. Just added it to my
new normal memories.