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Ryan Kelly’s Iconic Photograph of Charlottesville Riot is a Storytelling Image

The Washington Post declared that Ryan M. Kelly's photo from Charlottesville will define this moment in American history. We look at it and we are moved to sink in the moment we are living and what calls for moving forward.

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Thanks to the immediacy of how we can get the news now, we could vividly see most of the happenings and violence that erupted when white supremacist protesters clashed with their counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12. Ryan Kelly’s photograph, capturing the exact moment that Nazi sympathizer James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters, will be an iconic photograph that will forever depict what our nation really looks like despite all the politics.

Most of Americans are now disgusted that neo-Nazi, KKK members, and white nationalists stormed through the quiet streets of Charlottesville.

Eyewitnesses have told stories that seem unlikely to be true in 2017. Some have called it a horrific day in our history. Others say it is inexplicable that it really took place in America. Yet nothing more portrays in words what happened than Ryan Kelly’s photograph. (Read here how he recounts taking the photo)

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There are so many figures and forms crowded together in this photo, most only partially visible but telling an occurrence that has caused so much horror.

First, there’s the incriminating license plate from which authorities could track the 2010 Dodge Challenger registered in the name of James Alex Fields who now has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, failure to stop for an accident involving a death, and hit-and-run.

In this incident, a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer died at the scene, and 19 additional people were injured from the crash.

Ryan Kelly’s photograph displays people being tossed up in the air, others so frightened they seem unable to move.

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We have seen videos of terrorists committing heinous acts, but Ryan Kelly’s photograph that emerged from the weekend of “Unite the Right” rallies in Charlottesville will be the most enduring image in our minds asking us what we as a country stand for.

President Trump blamed there was violence on both sides of the Charlottesville rally riot. “There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for the country, but there are two sides to a story,” the president said at Trump Tower in Manhattan.

But the people in Kelly’s photograph tell a different spin on that account.

The driver rammed into hundreds of counterprotesters marching. People seemed hopeless and frantic as the car is seen barreling through so many people. We now know — not captured in the photo— that James smashed into another car, then backed up, tires screeching, reversing away from the scene. Imagine what was going through their minds as people started running to give first aid.

There are videos to see a more complete succession of events as the car hit anti-racist protestors. Undeniably, people (terrorists) are using cars to assault crowds in public places. A recent example is the van that veered onto a promenade in Barcelona and barreled down the busy walkway, swerving back and forth as it mowed pedestrians down and turned a picturesque tourist destination into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured.

What difference does Charlottesville really make as to not call it domestic terrorism?

Ryan Kelly’s photograph is an affirmation it is.

And there’s more we can make out of this iconic photograph, though I leave it to your analysis. Feel free to make your comments below.

Just one more reflection out of this photo.

This is how America looks like in this millennium and we need to fix it. Not only there should be no place for racism and bigotry in our nation anymore, but “alt-right” neo-Nazis should not be allowed to stage any other torchlit Nuremberg-replica rally in our cities or towns.

President Trump has faced a lot of criticism and deservingly so for not directly condemning the white supremacist groups in Charlottesville. The consequences have been exponentially critical for him.

The language tone and what those people [white nationalists] said on the streets —yelling at the African-American community, yelling at members of the Jewish faith— is not the side, not the president nor anyone of us, should ever be on.

Let’s not just turn the page on this. Let’s press the brakes hard enough to prevent another photograph like Ryan Kelly’s be taken.



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