It was a year of indelible images in Richmond, and we were privileged to be behind the camera lens to capture a few of them.
Winnowing down the thousands of images we gathered in Richmond’s streets, parks, boardrooms, shores, restaurant halls and other spots was no easy task, and the results are no doubt imperfect. Undaunted, we present to you a handful of the images that hit us hardest, with some candid reflections from the photographers who captured them.
Thank you, Richmond, for being so photogenic:
Photo taken: March 17, 2011
Story: Efforts to save Iron Triangle church end in arrests
Original caption: Tanya Dennis of the Home Defenders League and Paul Larudee were arrested for blocking the cruiser containing Pastor Sidney Keys and his mother Mary from leaving the church.
Christopher Connelly: “When I showed up to the scene, it was hectic. Richmond Confidential’s Samantha Bryson had been covering the story for the site, and I was coming in the second day of the standoff.
It was tense.
The police had already gone into the church and had been in there with Pastor Sidney Keys, his wife Patrice and his mother. Members of the church and the surrounding community were outside, many crying and shouting.
When the police car with Pastor Keyes came out of the gate in front of the church, five activists sat down in front of the car so it could not move. I snapped this picture after police started to pull them out of the way, dragging one man by his arms and legs to the police van.”
Photo taken: Jan. 12, 2011
Story: Jobs, self-sufficiency priorities for new city council
Original caption: Mayor Gayle McLaughlin (top left), new councilmembers Jovanka Beckles (center left) and Corky Boozé (right), and returning councilmember Jim Rogers (bottom left) were sworn in Tuesday night at the Memorial Auditorium.
Robert Rogers: “It’s rare that a photo illustration, by definition a contrived image, bears such a powerful fealty to the reality of a time and place. I think this one, by Vanessa Carr, is one of those, and surely the most indelible photo illustration of the year. The arrangement of faces – McLaughlin, Beckles and Rogers to the left, Booze looming largest to the right – has a powerful symmetry all its own, one that portended the outsized impact Booze would have on city politics over the subsequent 11 months.”
At the time, we wrote: “… The more than two-hour ceremony, kicked off by a Latin chant and concluded with a vocal performance by the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, was as emotional as it was drawn out. The incoming and outgoing councilmembers gave uniformly glassy-eyed speeches, introduced family members, raised their hands in oath or accepted distinguished service awards in exeunt, and were in turn acknowledged by each of the existing members. The pomp and circumstance was cut with good humor but, as councilmember Tom Butt pointed out, how could it not be with a Butt and a Boozé on the roster?”
Photo taken: Nov. 4, 2011
What we wrote at the time: “… The Encinal Jets swept aside the Kennedy Eagles 55-22 Friday night. But even as the Eagles walked off the field for what was for many their last ever home game, the team kept their spirits high. The game started out close. Senior wide receiver Kenneth Walker scored a touchdown off a 3-yard pass from quarter back Octavious Holley. Going into the second quarter the Eagles trailed just 7-8.”
Photo taken: February, 2011
Robert Rogers: “I was riding around with two officers on a gray late winter afternoon. Dispatch sent us to an apartment building on Macdonald Avenue, a couple blocks west of City Hall. The cruiser screeched to a halt out front, and two men sprinted up the steps. Officers Matt Stonebraker and Anthony Diaz jumped out the cruiser, and I bolted out of the back seat. After scaling two flights of stairs, the gauntlet was before us: A dark narrow hallway, and two men at the end of it, cornered. Stonebraker and Diaz plunged ahead. One man surrendered. The other did not, and the fight was on.
I think this was my best shot of the whole sequence, even though the action had subsided. There’s something about the neighbor, the woman peeking out her door. I could hear children inside, and she was unsettled by all the screams and grunts and thuds. Baggies of crack cocaine were strewn on the floor. I remember thinking to myself that this is what the war on illegal drugs looks like in our communities.”
What we wrote at the time: “… Other officers have bounded up the stairs to join the melee. A boot is on the man’s head. Moments later, he coughs up a golf ball-sized plastic bag containing rock cocaine.
“Whoa,” Diaz says, breathless. “I looked at the guys on the sidewalk first.”
“We went the right way,” Stonebraker huffs.
Adrenaline has barely tapered off. Both men pace in semicircles.'”
Photo taken: Oct. 14, 2011
What we wrote at the time: “… A couple dozen individuals gathered in the Market Square parking lot in downtown Richmond on Friday to join the “Occupy” movement that’s been sweeping the country since individuals began staking out Liberty Square in Manhattan in mid-September.”
Photo taken: May 1, 2011
Kornelia Trytko: “I thought I had a few good shots of people enjoying themselves, but I lacked the one showing how many of them actually joined the party. I tried to hold my camera high, get to the different spots but it didn’t work well. I decided to climb on one of the stages. As I didn’t have any official proof of being a journalist (apart from a big camera) I was just waiting for someone to stop me. There were also people performing on the stage, so at the beginning I felt a bit uncomfortable. However, I quickly noticed that nobody minded me being there, so I just took a few shots. They were not great, as the group on the stage was dancing and I had to move all the time, but at least I had an overview of the crowd.”
Robert Rogers: “For me, this photo powerfully captures and synthesizes the emerging, but often amorphous and misunderstood reality – that Richmond’s largest and youngest and fastest-growing ethnic group is Latinos. Their commercial, political and cultural clout in the city has not yet grown commensurate to their numbers, but is on the rise. On Cinco de Mayo, the breadth and sweep of the Latino experience in Richmond is on glorious display.”
What we wrote at the time: “The one mile long stretch of the 23rd Street in Richmond was filled to capacity with people who took part in the 5th annual Cinco the Mayo street festival on Sunday, which was organized by the 23rd Street Merchants Association.”
Photo taken: October 2011
Lexi Pandell: “I met Ized Stewart on 24th and Barrett Ave. He was sitting on the curb and watching cars speed by when I approached him and asked if I could sit with him. Ized seemed a bit surprised that I knew his full name, but was otherwise unshaken by having a reporter speak with him. I spent a while there with him, talking to him when he felt like talking and watching the traffic pass by when he didn’t, before I asked if I could take his photo. This photo shows the world as Ized has seen it for nearly 20 years.”
What we wrote at the time: “… For almost 20 years, Ized Stewart has lived outside on the corner of 24th Street and Barrett Avenue.
He’s a familiar presence, known to a generation of locals for surrounding himself with mounds of bags containing anything from garbage to stuffed animals. He’s often seen feeding the local birds, reading the newspaper or listening to his small radio.
Some know him as George, some simply as “the bag man.”
No one is quite sure how he ended up homeless in Richmond. In fact, no one really seems to know him well at all.'”
Photo taken: Nov. 11, 2011
Wendi Jonassen: “The average age of a protester at Occupy Richmond was considerably higher than protesters at any other Occupy events I had attended. The crowd was small, the sky was gray, and it rained on-and-off all afternoon. Protesters took turns talking into a mic and the crowd quietly observed and chatted amongst themselves. In the midst of this event, two girls knelt up front, patiently holding signs that grown-ups had given them. Right up front, this one little girl wearing bright pink stripes popped out in front of the monochromatic pants of the adult protesters and the gray sky. She held her sign passively, maybe too young to understand, but the little girl to her right glared on with intensity, as if she were angrier than the adults behind her. Amongst the bright outfit, patterns and intensity of the girl’s glare, this photo captured Occupy Richmond from their view.”
Photo taken: July 21, 2011
Tyler Orsburn: “i knew i had to get the picture of chief and the city councilmen so i just threw myself into the media whirlwind. i tried to get as close as possible without interfering with all the other visual reporters. Sometimes it can get kind of fiesty with reporters bumping shoulders and jockeying for position.”
Robert Rogers: “The city was on edge. The calm of the first few months of the year was dashed come summer. At one point, three memorials for slain young men were up in a square-block radius around Nevin Park. City leaders were scrambling for a response, and this curbside press conference was the answer. Orsburn’s photo is at once arranged and candid. All the major players have jockeyed for a spot in the shot. Over Chief Magnus’ shoulder, to the left, you see Booze and Ritterman, bitter rivals, sandwiched together. Behind them, under shadows, are Officers Matt Stonebraker and Anthony Diaz, the two beat cops who are often first on the scene in the Iron Triangle when bullets hit bodies. Then there is Chief Magnus, front and center, with a cluster of microphones thrust in front of him.”
What we wrote at the time: “Less than two days after Daryl Russell, 20, was gunned down in plain daylight and only a stone’s throw away from a community center, Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus and officials from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office stood near the blood-stained site and announced a new joint gang task force.”
Photo taken: Jan. 17, 2011
Vanessa Carr: “The light was stunning that January morning, making the rich green and earth tones of the Greenway pop. I noticed Kenisha Jackson first for her great style — leather jacket, UGG boots, hair swept up at a sassy angle — and then for the cool confidence with which she met my camera.”
What we wrote at the time: “… Kenisha Jackson (center) and Kare Hughes (right), both 17, discover that mulch and gossip are not mutually exclusive. The two friends are volunteering with the Making Waves educational program, which helps with college preparedness. They have been participating in the program since the fifth grade.”
Photo taken: Sept. 2, 2011
Robert Rogers: “The anguish in the church that day was a heavy, constant presence. Lots of sobs and wails. Elvis Escobar’s friends served as pallbearers, and they were tough, proud looking young men and boys. But that didn’t mean they didn’t hurt, just that they strained not to show it. I felt like this picture got at that mix of hurt and pride.
Here is this young man, his face so fierce just moments ago, now slumped, trying to hide the tears that he can’t fight back. In the background, you can see Rev. Filiberto Barrera, a respected man in the community and the one who delivered the Spanish-language eulogy. And of course Elvis’ casket is there too. White, still, and unspeakably sad.”
What we wrote at the time: “More than 200 people gathered at St. Cornelius Parish in Richmond to say goodbye. Escobar, 17, was killed Aug. 23 when he was shot near the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Eighth Streets, where the teen had been hanging out with friends on a warm night.”
Photo taken: Sept. 15, 2011
Robert Rogers: “Fred Jackson was universally adored in Richmond, the closest thing to a living legend that any place can probably have. When he died, North Richmond mourned in a unified, soulful voice. Dozens of people lined up to speak about Fred, about how he had touched their lives, before filing past his body, which lay in repose. Jackie Thompson, a community activist who learned so much from Fred’s example, leaned in toward him to share something in a hushed whisper. It was beautiful, just like the man and his community.”
What we wrote at the time: “… The services at North Richmond Missionary Baptist Church, one of the Bay Area’s oldest and most respected congregations, drew a crowd of residents and dignitaries, virtually all people who had been touched by the exalted local activist, artist and humanitarian.
Jackson rode into the tiny community of North Richmond, where he had worked and built relationships since his family came to the region in 1950, in a white hearse and to a heartfelt reception.”