Detroit photographer Garrett MacLean‘s project documenting the colorful and theatrical forms of protest in the age of Trump “came from a void, an unexpected absence.”
“What was expected to be a huge and violent protest of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland never materialized. In the run-up to the July 2016 event, people speculated that tensions in the country would lead to a convention similar to ’68 in Chicago,” says MacLean, who has otherwise been working on a long-term project about Detroit. “But it seemed as if there were more journalists than protesters. So instead of finding confrontation or overflow, I found interesting individuals expressing their support and dissent.”
MacLean soon found himself at rallies for a range of causes, mostly around the Midwest and always seeking out some of the more interesting people. The result is his project “One Nation, Under Protest.”
Over the past year and a half, MacLean says the most compelling protest he shot took place in front of the White House the day after the Juggalo March on Washington and the Pro-Trump Mother of All Rallies gathered at either ends of the National Mall in mid-September 2017.
“A transgender active-duty member of the US Army drove to DC alone to voice her disapproval of Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military. She asked to remain anonymous but allowed me to take her portrait, given the importance of the issue. At that moment, uncertainty surrounded Trump’s ban and how it would be enacted. She took the timeâ€”and possible riskâ€”to stand up for an issue vital to her life.“
Though his photos capture only a glimpse of the activism that has erupted in the streets over the last year, MacLean hopes the images help highlight the diversity of the people who take the time and energy to show up in support of causes important to them.
“I created this series with the goal that it might encourage more people to become politically active by showing some of their fellow citizens who have already decided to do just that.”