Located behind the viewer of this photograph, after having crossed over Rochester’s inner loop, is a main hub for the local night life. It’s where students and locals come to have a good time socializing with friends; knocking back a few drinks and letting loose on the dance floor.
My friends and I had just had a good night of dancing, spending time with new and old people from around town, and playfully joking around with each other all evening long. As we left the venue, police cruisers had set up a street roadblock on our left and police officers were directing the flow of patrons to the right. There was a sense of tension in the air; the constant pulse of the police lights casting shadows all around the alleyway.
We were casually walking, saying goodbye and goodnight to those whom we had talked with earlier. I was chatting with a friend, then some shouting broke out, and as we started to turn, we were both thrown to the ground by two guys that had been barreling towards us. Cops started spraying pepper spray into the air and I rushed to help up my friend, who now simply wanted to go home.
I quickly walked my friend over to her car and went back to find the friends I had came with, the mist from the pepper spray was causing my eyes to water. Soon I found my friends on the sidewalk, staring across the street. My friends had stopped to watch a lone individual get thrown to the ground, passed out; who was now was getting kicked by eight or more people. An officer mounted on horseback thankfully saw this commotion, trotted over to the group, and broke up the beating.
After having witnessed this public display of violence, I felt that this experience closely related with the Emmett Till reading. In the article Behold the Corpse: Violent Images and the Case of Emmett Till, Harold and DeLuca discuss the impact that human suffering or implied human suffering can have on viewers. In the case of my friends and I, we were bothered by this show of violence, because of the uneven ratio of 1 to 8+ and because of its proximity to where we had been having a good time moments ago.