Frank Johnson - Photojournalist
Frank Johnson - Photojournalist
By: Frank Johnson

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Tuesday, 8-Jun-2004 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
Engagement in the Arena

Today I walked the neighborhoods and spoke with the activists as well as law enforcement. Today was a very interesting day.

With all the concern and frankly fear of the police, I decided to walk around and get to
know some of the officers. What I found is most of the officers are pretty friendly. Most
feel as if they are doing a service to the community by showing a strong presence. They
also believe that they are not here to initimidate the activists but to protect the
activists from persons who might not agree.

It is kinda hard to find the right objective position to take in a situation like this.

If there wasn't a large police presence and the "world leaders" came to America and
something happened, then there would be another big congressional investigation on how we
could have improved the situation. On the other hand, since most people here in America
are not accustomed to seeing military vehicles on civilian streets, it creates a certain
level of tension. I believe that we the media are partially to blame for this tension. I
believe that it is our job to educate and inform our audience. With accurate information
people wouldn't be so easily intimidated.

With so many people in Brunswick scared to come out of their homes, I can only imagine
what the military presence is like in Iraq. Speaking to an anonymous resident, I was told
that she wasn't sure if she should be afraid of the government/military or the protestors. She went on to say that there must be something to these protests with the large law enforcement presence.

As a part of the media it is my job to be as objective as possible and not choose sides.

It is very easy to get emotional about the day to day problems that constantly bombard us. It is also very easy to get caught up in conspiracy theories when there are so many connecting facts, ideas and events. But our job as the media is to dig deeper, despite the fact that we live in the microwave generation and everyone is looking for that single quote or soundbite. Those quotes and soundbites should be based on facts and not rumors and 4th tier interpretations.

A little information about the photos that you see here. The primary photos is of
Officer Wisnioski of the Federal Protective Services. I was walking with another person,
who may desire to go unnamed here, past the Federal Building in downtown Brunswick,
Georgia. They have this facility totally fenced off with security checkpoints at each
corner. I found it very interesting that they were doing identification checks of
average citizens before they were allowed to past the fence. I stopped and took a couple
of photos of a senior citizen being asked to produce identification. Anyway, Officer
Wisnioski is shown here recording my passport and identification information onto sometype of contact form. This form probably puts me on some type of watch list.

Officer Wisnioski was a little intimidating but seemed to loosen up after he realized that I wasn't a threat. He maintained his stern position throughout my 15 minute background check and questioning. He didn't ask anything unusual or out of the way.

Also included in this report are photos from two of the press conferences I attended today. The first press conference was held at the Old County Court House in Brunswick, Georgia. There were several speakers representing several different organizations as you can see from some of the photos. There were maybe 25 different media organizations represented at this conference.

The second press conference was against Coca-Cola and the organization held it. For me personally it was a little more interesting, because I live in the city where Coca-Cola is headquartered. That press conference actually took place in front of a Coca-Cola bottling company in Brunswick, Georgia. Another reason this particular conference was interesting is because what appeared to be a military helicopter kept flying overhead and made it difficult for the media to hear what was actually being said.

And finally, I witnessed several National Guard Media persons documenting the conference. Because we have an overall lack of exposure to the military, seeing military journalists was a particular treat for me --but intimidating to most.

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