Arresting Optics: Black Femme Witnessing in Protest Photojournalism and the Anti-Black Techniques of Police Vision

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In this article, we animate the interstitial practices shared by photojournalists and police officers, and sketch some of the stakes for visual practitioners ‘bearing witness while black’. We employ visual analyses of protest images by Black photographers while tracing the specific visual techniques of oversight mobilised by law enforcement. These include police departments’ co-optation of news images to identify and criminalise racial justice protesters alongside efforts to professionalise police officers into photographers. We theorise the anti-Black intersections shared across these expansive formations – policing and photojournalism – in an effort to account for the ways in which both systems maintain and invest in damaging visualities that shape consequences ‘on the ground’ for Black and brown communities.


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