Michael Galinsky has documented many moments of political tension, from Klan rallies to Occupy Wall Street. Tagging along with a friend who worked for Reuters, Galinsky showed up at the Donald Trump rally in Greensboro, NC on Tuesday. He applied for press credentials as they were driving to the venue, although his plans from the beginning were to shoot something more akin to Jeff Krulik and John Heyn’s “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” the legendary underground film made in the parking lot of a 1986 Judas Priest concert.
But whereas “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” is bust-a-gut hilarious stuff, Galinsky’s quietly observational footage of the Trump rally will probably just make you sad. He writes:
I had applied too late which was fine, but I still tried to talk my way in because there wasn’t much happening outside. When that didn’t work I sat down in the shade to figure out a plan of action. After about a minute of watching people trickle towards the venue, I heard a man yelling, “White Power!” I grabbed my camera and approached. He was wearing a big cowboy hat and a Willie Nelson shirt with Willie giving us “the finger.” Still, I wasn’t sure if he was being ironic until a minute later when the cops approached. They explained that we as citizens do have “free speech,” but that his incendiary language was dangerous and therefore prohibited. It was kind of a surreal conversation (see the video), and as I listened, it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to be allowed there much longer either. I was right. After they gave him and his friend the heave-ho, I was told I had five minutes to leave. I tried once again to get in with credentials, then I headed for the parking lot.
I often enter these situations with a vague idea of what I plan to shoot but try to remain open to what comes. I ran into a guy selling shirts and talked to him for a bit. They were vulgar, anti-Hilary shirts and people heading into the event loved them. I started to think about the people who sold things at the event and followed this up with another guy selling shirts. A few moments later, I saw a group of people who were representing the Militia Movement. I talked to them for a bit, and then a roving protest showed up. It was a loud mass surrounded by police. Having spent time with the militia guys, I observed the protest from their perspective for a while.
This event was taking place just days after the horrific events in Orlando, and this was largely an LGBTQ-led protest. After having filmed at dozens of protests, I get a little spooked around cops. These guys were generally working with kid gloves, but I still felt a bit unsure about going to shoot with the protesters as they were surrounded by masses of cops. I’m a “non-credentialed” journalist, and as such, I’m more at risk in these situations, so I try to be very cautious. The protesters set up shop across the street, and I made my way across the street to shoot a couple of people being interviewed by a local news channel. I like to shoot media doing interviews because it gives a context to the situation and how that situation is being portrayed.
And now without future explanation, because of course, none is really necessary, witness the pathetic gene pool who support
Biff Tannen sorry, er President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho whoops, I mean Donald Trump as they cavort and gather and hoot and holler in “Trump Parking Lot.”