On Friday, Feb. 24, travel photojournalist Jerry Nelson will be at the Vanuatu Kava Bar to discuss his experiences while embedded with OccupyDC as well as to share photographs from his coffee table book, OccupyDC: As I See It.
Nelson has spent the past four months documenting OccupyDC since it began in October 2011 and was been there continuously until the National Park Service police raided McPherson Square, site of the Feb. 4 OccupyDC. Coinciding with the raid and eviction from McPherson Square — three blocks from The White House — Nelson was detained and held for 48 hours by the National Park Police. Nelson says he was picked up on Feb. 4 and released on Feb. 6 without having been charged with any offense nor was he advised of his rights or allowed to make a phone call. The story of Nelson’s arrest and incarceration has been seen on television throughout the country and has prompted inquiries from California to Georgia and Maine to Florida.
Nationally, 47 photojournalists have been detained similarly by law enforcement since OccupyWall Street started Sept. 17, 2011. First Amendment experts from several colleges and universities are examining each case closely and plan on issuing a report of their findings later in the year.
Nelson says his book has a minimum of commentary. “I wanted people to bring their own culture and experiences to the book,” he says. “At the height of OccupyDC in late November, there were about 200 people in McPherson. People from all walks of life participated in OccupyDC and they each brought their views, their hopes and their experiences to the park. I wanted to try to create that same sense in the book and felt that the fewer the words, the easier that would be.”
Almost 100 pages long and containing more than 300 photographs, OccupyDC: As I See It brings the experience to life as protesters march on — and get arrested — at The White House, occupy the halls of Congress and take to the streets of the nation’s capital. “Besides being detained in jail for 48 hours,” says Nelson, “I was also admitted to George Washington University Hosptial after a dustup with metropolitan police during the protest at The Capitol Hilton where The Alfalfa Club was meeting.” The Alfalfa Club is an annual dinner of high-powered government officials and corporate officers. Attending this year’s dinner Pres. Barak Obama along with former presidents George W and George HW Bush and Bill Clinton.