This Is What Community Looks Like: Protests Across America

Brooklyn-based photographer Michelle LoBianco set off on a road trip in early June, documenting Black Lives Matter protests in communities across the country. She reflects below on what she encountered, and shares several of the photographs she shot on her trip.

words and images by Michelle LoBianco

My partner and I left New York City on June 2nd, like many others during the pandemic, each of us with our own reasons. Ours was a desire to reconnect with family and nature, and to experience the shared joy of being on the road. We had been planning our trip for weeks. But in the wake of the George Floyd murder and subsequent swell of protests, I found myself leaving the city with a heavy heart and a sense of regret that I would not be present at every single turn of events in those streets.

When I reflect on how this period has disrupted our daily habits and lifestyles—from the constriction of lockdown to the expanse of civil unrest that’s pulsed throughout this city and the world—it seems evident we’re left with a case of "collective PTSD."

This inspired me to turn on my camera and capture what would be surrounding me. I found that I was both proud and inspired by what I saw while traveling across the country, observing how the rest of America was participating in and redefining this state of turbulence. When I reflect on how this period has disrupted our daily habits and lifestyles—from the constriction of lockdown to the expanse of civil unrest that’s pulsed throughout this city and the world—it seems evident we’re left with a case of "collective PTSD."

I believe, as a society, there exists a desire to regain pieces of ourselves that we have lost— to redefine our individual priorities, and to focus on community and the future of what that means on both a local and national level. Together now only at an acceptable social distance, our access to one another has become limited to visual representations through social media. This is a unique time to look both outward and inward simultaneously and see a range of images and how they affect and reflect our collective and individual emotions.

I wanted to see what the protests against police brutality “felt” like to communities outside of the city, and to document the range of responses I saw.

I wanted to see what the protests against police brutality “felt” like to communities outside of the city, and to document the range of responses I saw. What these images show is that this is not just a cause for the major coastal cities, and that this is a national movement where even the demographically less diverse parts of our country are showing unity and working to make an impact for racial justice.

From New York City to Colorado, Wyoming, Minnesota, Illinois and back again: This is what community looks like, this is what we fight for—and may we continue to fight the good fight in every city, road, town, and window across the world.

We returned to our city on June 28th—the last photos in the set show the wondrous sense of community in NYC during the Pride Month March, as well images from the Occupy City Hall camp. From New York City to Colorado, Wyoming, Minnesota, Illinois and back again: This is what community looks like, this is what we fight for—and may we continue to fight the good fight in every city, road, town, and window across the world.

You can see more of Michelle LoBianco's work via her Instagram, linked below.

Michelle LoBianco Instagram