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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 time—and possible risk—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.”

Support Transgender Troops rally, White House, Washington, DC

Left: Slut Walk, Palmer Park, Detroit; Right: Mother of All Rallies, Washington, DC

Affordable Care Act support rally, Detroit

Anti-Iraqi deportation rally, downtown Detroit

Juggalo March, National Mall, Washington, DC

Republican National Convention protest, Cleveland, Ohio

Slut Walk, Detroit

Kid Rock protest, Detroit

Kid Rock protest, Detroit

Counterprotest to Westboro Baptist Church, Oak Hills High School, Cincinnati, Ohio

Anti-Iraqi deportation rally, downtown Detroit

Counterprotest to the Westboro Baptist Church, Oak Hills High school, Cincinnati, Ohio

Left: Slut Walk, Detroit; Right: Kid Rock protest, Detroit

Juggalo March, National Mall, Washington, DC

Mother of All Rallies, Washington, DC

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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