In this interview, Getty Images staff news photographer Scott Olson discusses his experience shooting the initial weeks of civil unrest in Ferguson and returning to capture the mood as the grand jury announcement is made.
On 9 August, police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed 18- year-old African-American named Michael Brown. The following day, thousands of mourners arrived to take part in a peaceful memorial service, but despite calls from the Brown family for calm demonstration, violent protests erupted that and subsequent nights for nearly two weeks.
Each morning the protesters reset and began to gather peacefully, some chanting ‘hands up, don’t shoot’, but descended into mayhem in the evenings, with stores looted, properties set alight and shots fired by rioters and police. In response, the Ferguson police, along with the National Guard, used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds while arresting protestors and journalists alike.
Even President Barack Obama spoke out against the arrest of journalists, defending their constitutional right to report on the events. Despite the significant advances in civil rights made in America over the last five decades, events such as these polarise the population along racial lines and highlight what are considered by many to be nationwide tensions regarding race and its representation within America’s police force and its society as a whole.Download the free Year in Focus book on iBooks