Up next in my documentary series, is the protest at the Tennessee State Capitol Building in Nashville. You can see my initial post of this series and read my introduction for this project in “American as Apple Pie-The Silent Inauguration“. If you have been following this project, you will noticed that I changed the series from 5 to 3 posts each with their own subtitle. The reason for this change is because I received my Women’s March scans back today and decided that keeping all 3 rolls shot during the march together in one post would make a stronger presentation. The Women’s March blog post will follow this one.

The photos in this post were taken the same day of the Silent Inauguration. While at the silent protest, I overheard someone talking about something happening at the capitol, so I left Centennial Park and drove to downtown. Since it was a weekday, I could not find any legal parking at the capitol building, so I decided to head further downtown and park in the stadium parking near Riverfront. This is a considerable distance from the capitol, but I figure it was a nice day and I could snap some street shots on my trek to and from the protest. Besides, parking was free!

Upon arriving at Legislative Plaza, I noticed only a few people scattered about. It was as if a larger crowd had dispersed leaving only a few stragglers. I’m not sure if there was an official start time for the protest, so I can not vouch for any official head count. It looked like I might have arrived toward the end of the activities on the plaza. This was evident from and unmanned petition station and protest instruments gathered in a corner.







With not a lot happening on the plaza, I set my sights on the capitol building. Something was definitely happening on Capitol Hill.



As I made my way across Charlotte Avenue and up the steps to the capitol, I was confronted with the typical signs you see at most democrat and liberal protests.






This next sign might not be typical, but it was my favorite!



There was a lot to chanting and singing. It reminded me of a pep rally before the big game. I strolled around taking in the moment. There were people standing alone. There were couples and small groups. A few parents with their small children were in attendance. Everyone appeared to be having a fun time. There were a few other photographers running around also. There were no teary eyes like I saw at the Silent Inauguration. The atmosphere was upbeat and much louder. I estimate at the time I was on Capitol Hill, there was roughly a net of 50 people around me as they were coming and going. The one thing that stuck out about this particular protest was that most of those 50 people were half my age, teenagers to late twenty something.








Ok, these next two guys probably were not really into the protest. They appeared to be more interested in playing Pokemon and doing cool skateboard tricks on the capitol steps.



The only people who were probably older than me were the two State Troopers keeping watch. They were posted at one end of the building making sure things did not get out of hand. I approached  them and had a short conversation with both troopers. I asked them for their portraits. They agreed, but I wanted them to stand with the capitol in the background. They were not up for posing, so I took their picture where they stood. After I grabbed my portraits, I thanked them for their service.




The centerpiece of this protest were the people who decided to chain themselves to the doors of the capitol building. As I have mentioned in my previous post, I’m ok with protesting, but there has to be a line in the sand. That line for me obviously stops short of harming people. That line also represents respecting the property of others and it means having some decency. These protesters were definitely crossing the line of respecting others people’s property. One could argue that as a tax payer, you are part owner of this public building. However, it does not give you permission to chain yourself to the doors of your state capitol. What if the people on the inside had an emergency and needed to immediately exit through that door? Did that cross the minds of the protesters? Maybe, Maybe not.




After I took the photos above, I walked down the steps to look for other perspectives. It was then I saw some familiar faces. I knew things were about to get a bit more interesting. If you read my previous blog post, you will recognize at least one of the faces I am about to show you. These guys have become my favorite rabble-rousers. They showed up at the bottom of the steps with their bull horns and signs spewing the same rhetoric they spewed at the Silent Inauguration earlier that day. Their rhetoric was against gays, feminists, abortion, black lives matter and they engaged anyone who dared to question them.




When I saw some youngsters head in their direction, I thought a riot was going to ensue.  Instead, they all got in a line and hoisted their banner with their backs turned to the rabble-rousers.







It appears that the one emotion that conquers all at these types of protests is love. This young lady proudly displayed her sign as the two men continued their rhetoric.



This continued for several minutes. No one was really confronting the men up close. I had the pictures I wanted, so I headed back to the plaza. There were a few more people at the plaza than were there when I first arrived. However, nothing was really happening. These people were probably those leaving the steps of the capitol building. Most were just hanging out talking to each other. It looked liked things were dying down. As I was walking around, I was approached by a young man who asked who I was shooting for. I told him that shooting the streets and events like this was my hobby. He thought that was cool and told me his name was Tristin. He said he helped organize this event. It turns out that Tristin is no stranger to protests. He was part of the famous “Occupy” movement. We continued for a while talking about his protest history and his confrontations with the police. He also told me about the Anti-Trump protest that was scheduled for later that evening at the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge. Tristin told me to look for him if I decided to come. Before leaving, I gave him my business card and asked if I could have his portrait.



It was not until I got home that evening that I found out that the fire department was called to cut the people off the door of the capitol building. The state troopers arrested 9 or 10 people that evening. Wow! I just missed the fireworks! I should have hung out a little longer. After I got my picture of Tristin, I started the trek back toward Riverfront. I still had a few frames left, so I grabbed some street shots on the way back to my car. I’ll be sharing those street images after my documentary series is over. All of these photos were shot with my Olympus OM1. I shot these images on Kodak TRI-X 400 with my 50mm and 28mm lenses. The film was developed and scanned by the FINDlab in Orem, Utah. Thanks for stopping by! I would love to hear your comments!


Images Best Viewed in Lightbox Below!


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6 Responses

  1. Travis you did an outstanding job with these photos and recording what was happening in real time and in perspective. We do have to agree with you on the topic of the young people chaining themselves to the Capitol doors. The “what if’s” you present are very real but I am seeing that many protestors don’t see it that way. They have stopped appreciating others uniqueness unless it is like theirs. If my son had chained himself to the cookie jar because I we didn’t give him all the cookies he wanted I don’t think he would have done it again in fact I know he wouldn’t have done it again. Now if he wanted to sit down and talk civilly about it then we are off to a good start and through dialogue and facts we can have a good discussion.

  2. […] The millennials came out on Inauguration Day to protest at the Tennessee State Capitol Building in Nashville. It was an interesting day that ended in a few arrests. You can read more about this protest and see more pictures on Shuttering Thru Life. […]

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