Two Inadequate Voices


2IV is a platform for image-makers to recount and reflect textually on their stories of being out in the world whilst photographing.

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Jesse Freeman
Baltimore, MD

Living in Tokyo for the past 13 years I don’t get to go back home to Baltimore, MD very much. Maybe every other year at best, but when I am there I shoot everything. There was a time back in 2012 when my uncle in Baltimore was contemplating running in politics again. He had a meeting and I asked to tag along so I could wander and shoot as I usually did, especially since it was on the other side of town that I am not used to. After of about 15 mins of wandering I heard a voice behind me. I turned around in time to get hit in the face and felt the pull on my neck from the camera strap. This guy was trying to rob me, so I grabbed my M3 and hit him with my other hand. We exchanged a couple of blows each then he stepped back and ran off. I started chasing after him from the adrenaline then came to my senses and stopped.

I did get a shot of him going down the block but that isn’t the point of the story. I realized I should head back as I had a cut on my face and my hands, in addition to a huge tear in my t-shirt. Walking back the fastest route was through John Hopkins University. And what I discovered was looking as I did and coming from that part of town I didn’t get very far as I was intercepted by John Hopkins police. I was shocked because I have walked across several times and never had issues, but again looking the way I did and coming from where I did, they insisted I go back to where I came from. And after lots of arguing and anger (and their reinforcements) I walked several blocks around the campus.

When I got back to the house, everyone was shocked at what had happened and my uncle’s political friends wanted to call the police, while I wanted to file a complaint against Hopkins police for racial profiling. But going back and doing some research, amid protests Hopkins does have a full privatized police force and just became armed in this year. Although sexual assault among students is the prevalent crime on campus, the police are geared toward enforcement against the few remaining disadvantages neighborhoods in the area that the school hasn’t yet gentrified. So although I was out seeking images, I discovered first hand the now private militarized police force Hopkins has and their enforcement efforts to keep poor African Americans out.

Jesse Freeman is an American visual artist and writer based in Tokyo. His mediums include photography, filmmaking, collage, and ikebana under the Sogetsu school. He runs Jesse's Visual Interviews on the Japan Camera Hunter website.