Riot

I got some concerned calls from friends and family in Ireland when they saw I was out taking photographs at the Gilet Jaunes protests. I assured them I was fine, having learned a valuable life lesson during my first ever riot*.

The current protests also remind me of attending a much quieter riot during the winter of 2011 in New York.

And of going to the May Day riots in Berlin, which turned out to be a very civilised affair.

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*I was seventeen and had just started taking photographs when I went my first riot, which kicked off during a squatter’s protest in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures - after a few hours hanging around in case something happened, when it actually did I was too busy running down a narrow city street as fast as I could from a terrifying wall of charging police, equipped with dogs and waving long mahogany batons. I didn’t have a press card, but even if I had it would have made absolutely no difference - they were determined to pacify everyone on the street with extreme force, no matter who they were. So my top riot tip is this: in a riot, stay as far away as possible from the people who are most likely to hurt you, and those people are probably the police.

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My book of New York photos is available online. Limited-edition prints from the book are available for purchase at The Copper House Gallery in Dublin. You can see a piece I did on New York for Narratively here.

Mathias Zwick does great photographs of the Gilet Jaunes protests in Paris, and there’s a country-wide live feed here.