I photographed actor Wendell Pierce at home in the Pontchartain Park neighborhood of New Orleans for a feature in Esquire UK. Pierce stars in a stage production of Waiting for Godot this fall in London.
"The fatal police shooting of Ricky Ball in October 2015 convulsed the city of Columbus, Mississippi. Residents marched. Some businesses, fearing a race riot because a white cop had killed a black man, closed on protest day. A city council member accused the department of planting a gun beside Ball’s body. The police chief resigned. The district attorney called in state authorities to handle the case.
Finally, in September 2016, a grand jury indicted the officer, Canyon Boykin, on manslaughter charges. Boykin’s case still hasn’t gone to trial, but if the recent past is anything to go by, he’s likely to make it through without punishment — and even walk away from the case ahead, handed money for his troubles. That’s because shortly after he shot 25-year-old Ball as Ball ran away following a traffic stop, Boykin sued the city for racial discrimination, claiming he’d been unfairly fired for being a white cop who’d killed a black person. Just before his discrimination lawsuit was to go to trial last year, the city settled with Boykin for an undisclosed amount.
“That’s what really made me realize how much is stacked against us,” said Ricky’s cousin, Ernesto Ball, who is 46. “That’s the moment I began to think that maybe these cops can really get away with whatever.”
I photographed a surviving family member, a community organizer, the path that Ricky took while running from the police, and an eyewitness to his subsequent death for Buzzfeed.
Buzzfeed News: "Maybe These Cops Can Really Get Away With Whatever."
I'm happy to have a few pictures that I originally made on assignment for VICE Magazine now illustrate the cover story of YES! Magazine's summer issue. My day with the Umoja family in Jackson, Mississippi was super inspiring and it's great to learn how their work has progressed since we met a couple years ago. For more pictures from the original VICE story on black community organizing in Jackson, see FREE THE LAND.
You can find the YES! Magazine story here: After Centuries of Housing Racism, a Southern City Gets Innovative
As bail has grown into a $2 billion industry, bond agents have become the payday lenders of the criminal justice world, offering quick relief to desperate customers at high prices.