Waukesha photojournalist threatened, smacked and mugged while filming events in Ferguson, MO.
When 18 year old Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, MO on August 9th, 24 year old photojournalist Abe Van Dyke was safely in his Waukesha residence recording football games; listening closely to the background chatter of his police scanner. At the time Abe had no idea that one week later he would be putting his life and safety at risk deep in the trenches of protesters, tear gas, rioting, and gunfire in the streets of Ferguson.
The Calling for Truth
As news of the Michael Brown killing and subsequent protests spread across the country, it was obvious that the situation there was not going away any time soon. Three days into the protests and looting, Van Dyke felt something calling him to Ferguson, MO to see it with his own eyes and capture it on film. Anyone who knows Abe was not surprised of his decision to go there to get some photos.
At any given moment when newsworthy events happen, Abe Van Dyke is quick to grab his camera equipment, hop in his Prius, and race to the scene to capture unfolding stories of tragedy and destruction. Van Dyke willingly injects himself into potentially harmful situations because he has a heartfelt passion for capturing truth. This time his passion took him to Ferguson, Missouri, where protestors, violence, and looting indicate that perhaps there’s more to what meets the eye.
What was most shocking, however, was when I read this on Abe’s Facebook timeline yesterday:
“… I had a gun pointed at me, was tear gassed, hit by a protester nearly destroying my camera and mugged by a protestor who stole my kevlar helmet. ~Abe”
As his friend I suggested that perhaps it may be time to get out of there before something worse happens to him. Abe vehemently replied:
“Absolutely not. I’m not leaving. Looters were trying to intimidate journalists and since most of us are white that really doesn’t help. I understand and accept the risks this kind of work has and I carry a living will with my medical wishes on my person. Someone needs to show what is really going on and right now that’s me.”
Van Dyke feels that he plays an important role by getting the word out to help bring peace to Ferguson. When interviewed by FOX 6 News last evening, Van Dyke stated:
“The biggest thing you’re not seeing is that the people are there just to show their support. It’s not really the hatred towards cops and it’s not a black-white thing either, it’s more or less, they just want justice.”
I consider Abe a true friend, and I deeply respect his passion and commitment as a photojournalist and teller of truth! Rest assured that Abe will record this tragic event from many angles for the whole world to see. He will lose sleep, probably become dehydrated and malnourished from the lack of food and drink. He will risk his own safety so you and I can see what’s really happening.
Abe Van Dyke is a photojournalist soldier and he does not do it for vanity, fortune or fame. Although I suspect that the adrenaline rush that obviously comes with his job may have something to do with it, I know in my heart that his passion for capturing truth is what drives him into dangerous situations. How many of you would face being shot, tear gassed, and mugged so you can capture an event?
Check out the Abe Van Dyke’s pictures at the VDC News Facebook page:
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