Visa pour l'image 2012 : Yunghi Kim
Occupy Wall Street and those angry at Trayvon Martin killing demonstrate at Union Square. Marches went into the night all over Lower Manhattan as NYPD tried to contain it. March 21, 2012 © Yunghi Kim 2012 All rights reserved
The Occupy Wall Street movement is a people powered movement that began on Sept 17, 2011 with the occupation of Zuccotti Park (Liberty Square) in the Financial District of lower Manhattan. This movement rapidly spread to many cities across United States and globally. While the movement is leaderless with no clearly defined goals, its simple messages of fighting for economic justice and fight against corporation greed struck a cord with millions of working class Americans.
Chanting slogans like "We are the 99%" in the streets of New York City, the protestors were determined to have daily non-violent, defiant protests.It was a huge headache and a pesky problem for New York City's Mayor Bloomberg and the New York Police Dept. Occupy movement has changed the national dialogue and it has waken the world the power of 99 Percent.
Back Story to Occupy Wall Street written by Yunghi Kim:
I’ve learned from my almost 30 years as a photojournalist and the hundreds of stories I’ve covered, how to quickly recognize a big story. It was clear from the start that the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) had all the right elements to become huge. Unlike most of my projects, I wouldn’t be traveling to a far off war zone. This story was happening right in my own backyard.
I don’t recall a movement or an event in my career that has struck such a cord with so many Americans. OWS changed the dialogue in America and around the world as well. It successfully brought attention to runaway corporate greed and gave a voice to the working “99 Percent” of us. All of this only a subway stop away from my home in Brooklyn. How could I not pursue this story?
Like so many of my bigger projects over the years, like “The Comfort Women of South Korea”, the Rwandan refugee crisis, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, my own desire to document the story in pictures would be my biggest motivation. To bear witness to history is a common drive among photojournalists. We want to capture actual events as they unfold and to create a visual story. Without this drive, I think it’s almost impossible to produce a meaningful body of work.
I was surprised to see the wide amount of support generated by OWS and enjoyed the creative ways in which they spread their message. Everyday there’d be a protest scheduled for both the opening and the closing bells of the stock market. Complete with the now well known slogans like, “The banks got bailed out, and we got sold out” Often the protestors would use humor, such as dressing up like zombies or taking brooms to Wall Street and pretend to sweep away the greed. I think this strategy hit a cord with Americans and helped to successfuly brand the movement.
Of course, other times there would be a more serious tone. As when the protesters would play “cat and mouse” with the police, or even outrun them so they could march the streets, free of escorts, as they saw fit. These tactics often ended in arrests.
It was no easy task for the NYPD, probably the biggest and best trained police force in the world. Mayor Bloomberg claims it’s the sixth largest army on the planet! During arrests, police officers would form huge columns which would block what you could see. Frustrating, to now something is happening and not being able to photograph it. They’d also use a technique called “kettling” where people would be locked into a certain area (protesters, journalists, whomever) circled by police. Anyone trying to leave would be arrested. It didn’t matter who you were, once an officer decided to arrest you, there was nothing you could do. Many times the arrests seemed random.
As a freelance photographer, the thought of spending thousands of dollars in legal fees and going through the court system became more of a concern as I spent more time working this story.
The protests were quite physically demanding. There was a lot of running, backwards, forwards, and sideways, during marches that would cover half the length of Manhattan. One day I ended up flat on my back (with another photographer on top of me) after being pushed by a police officer. Luckily I was able to find my glasses so I could continue shooting. Having a few new bruises at the end of the day was common among photographers.
Bruises are better than handcuffs any day!
I was fascinated by how efficiently OWS used social media to communicate with their supporters. They had their own live video streaming team with protesters carrying portable wi-fi enabled webcams. Everything they and the NYPD did was documented and shared almost as it happened. Eventually, I learned to use Twitter(@Yunghi) pretty well myself.
Zuccotti Park was another amazing scene. You could see Noble Prize winners, celebrities, average Americans and homeless people all rubbing shoulders and making speeches to one another.
If you had something to say, Zuccotti Park was the place to be!
Overall, this was a lot safer than much of my work. You didn’t have mortars going off or bullets flying around, but, it was often frustrating having to navigate around the NYPD. Still, I think my images stand up well and serve as a visual record of what I experienced and witnessed.
Since then they have been kicked out of the Zuccotti park, they lost their occupation. in 2012, The movement has gone more radical with mostly hardliners remaining, Some have become Anarchists. The protesters also have become more sophisticated in their tactics, more strategic directed at specific action and targeting national events like NATO Summit in Chicago, The Republican Conventions etc. The police have been tougher clamping down on protesters with arrest. Many of the remaining protesters have been arrested 7 or 8 times.
Yunghi Kim is a photojournalist, born in Taegue, South Korea, but is a Korean-American who spent her formative years in New York.
She has covered some of the biggest global news events in the last 30 years. The more memorable include; Somalia in 1992, the Rwandan Genocide 1994 and the resulting refugee crisis in 1996, South African elections of 1994, the fall of the Indonesian dictator Suharto in 1998, the war in Kosovo in 1999, the Iraq War in 2003, Afghanistan 2001 and 2005, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She is most proud of her documentation of the lives of former South Korean Comfort Women in 1996, who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during its occupation of Korea during World War II. Her most recent project is Occupy Wall Street.
She has covered many in-depth issue-driven stories where intimate storytelling, and giving a voice to her subjects through her lens remains her primary objective. She started her photojournalism career at The Patriot Ledger, a small newspaper in Quincy Massachusetts in 1984, and then went on to become a staff photographer for the Boston Globe in 1987. She was a member of Contact Press Images from 1995 to 2008.
Her professional accolades include 3 World Press Photo Awards, Over 35 Poyi awards including Magazine Photographer of the Year by POYi (one of two woman to receive it ), The Olivier Rebbot and The John Faber Awards from the Overseas Press Club, Visa D’Or for News from the Visa Pour L’image Festival in France, The White House Press Photographers, Boston Press Photographers Association, Communication in Arts and Society for News Design, recipient of Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University. She has also served as a speaker at the Nieman Narrative Journalism Conference at Harvard University and was a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of Somalia in 1992. Current member of NPPA Board of Directors( National Press Photographers Association) and She is a 2012 recipient of the United Nations' Leadership Award in the field of photography
She has also worked extensively for magazine commissioned assignments. She has been published in Time, Newsweek, Business Week, U.S. News and World Report, LIFE, Forbes, Fortune, The Independent (London), Sports Illustrated, Texas Monthly, and Golf Magazine, People Magazine, and Vogue.