(Wearing safety goggles and a 3M respirator, Gabriella Angotti-Jones of the Los Angeles Times photographs the aftermath of a protest in Los Angeles. Photo: Bing Guan)
Across the United States, staff and freelance photojournalists are risking their lives to document the historic protests currently taking place over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other Black Americans who have suffered as a result of systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S.
There are an incredible number of talented Black storytellers on the frontlines, all of whom have suddenly been thrust into an unprecedentedly dangerous situation for press freedom in the United States. According to the US Press Freedom Tracker , there were at least 400 reported attacks by police on journalists during the George Floyd protests, as of June 10, 2020.
WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT?
We are aiming to help protect as many Black journalists on the frontlines as possible. Your contribution will be used towards providing cash grants to be used towards personal protective equipment (PPE) for Black photographers and videographers covering the frontlines of American history, with priority given to freelance journalists.
We are currently aiming to raise enough funds to provide emergency grants of $400 per journalist, as individuals are best equipped to identify and address their own needs. One person might need a helmet and goggles, while someone else could use help towards a bulletproof vest.
We are also working to produce a buying guide for journalists seeking to procure PPE, in addition to other safety resources.
WHAT RISKS DO JOURNALISTS CURRENTLY FACE IN THE US?
Journalists and documentarians in the United States now face targeting from security forces armed with "less lethal" equipment from tear gas, rubber bullets, sponge rounds, flashbang grenades, & pepper spray, to live rounds from pistols, shotguns and assault rifles.
Given this unprecedented array of threats to reporters' physical wellbeing, in addition to the ongoing pandemic and the near-impossibility of social distancing at well-attended protests, adequate PPE is essential to protecting members of the free press and their First Amendment rights.
Physically and financially, freelance photographers and videographers bear the greatest risk, often operating without the same legal support and security teams as the major news outlets (all of which, of course, rely on freelancers.)
WHO DO WE WANT TO SUPPORT?
We have access to a growing list of Black photographers covering the US protests (currently 330+).
If you are a Black visual journalist interested in receiving a grant for PPE, please complete this brief application .
Lack of BIPOC representation has long been a systemic issue in photojournalism, and it is beyond time to remedy that by protecting and armoring the brave reporters, particularly BIPOC, who are risking their lives to create images and tell stories that reach the world.
WHY DO YOU NEED SO MUCH MONEY?
PPE is really, really expensive - but also essential if you're at routine risk of being tear-gassed, pepper sprayed, or shot at . Here are some eye-popping sample prices for low to mid-level gear, tax & shipping excluded:
- CBRN gas mask & riot agent filters ($200-250)
- NIJ IIIA Ballistic Helmet ($250)
- NIJ IIIA Listed Ballistic & Stab Level I Ballistic Vest ($480)
- First Aid Kit w Quiklot ($100)
- ANSI Z87.1 2003 High Impact rated Goggles ($50)
- NIJ III+ or IV Armor Plates + Plate Carrier ($800)
The average day rate for a freelance news photographer is between $300-450.
Given that so many have been out of work lately due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we want to help financially bolster Black journalists so they can protect themselves and continue telling stories that matter.
HOW WILL THE MONEY BE DISTRIBUTED?
We have partnered with the International Center of Photography in New York to distribute funds to approved grant recipients through an accredited 501(c)(3) organization.
ABOUT THE BLACK PRESS FREEDOM FUND
The Black Press Freedom Fund is run by a group of photojournalists and International Center of Photography alumni with the intention to equip black photographers and visual storytellers with professional PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) who have been documenting police brutality and systemic racism in the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests across the United States.
My name is Bing Guan, and I am a Chinese-American freelance photojournalist currently based in Southern California. I am not a certified safety expert in any shape or fashion, but spent 2 months covering the 2019 Hong Kong protests and find the current situation in the US disturbingly similar in terms of the targeting of journalists by security forces. I would like to use my knowledge and field experience to benefit my Black colleagues who are out on the frontlines telling their own peoples' history, on their own terms. You can see my website here, or follow me on Instagram.
- Gladys Vargas
- Maria-Elena Diaz
- Inez Oliveras