Images of Freedom

In the United States, we frequently talk about the virtues of freedom, especially around Independence Day. We asked photographers from the DMV to send us images that represent freedom to them. Some described how nature, travel, and even ice cream can be sources of personal freedom. Others shared images of celebrations or protests that demonstrate our First Amendment Rights. Still others showed the anguish and determination that followed recent Supreme Court rulings that diminished our freedoms.

Cheryle Alexander

(Cheryle’s portfolio)
Sometimes it seems our freedoms are taken to the stern; roped and tied in a tangle of misconception and lowered in our hopes for the future by too many threads and opinions.

©Cheryle Alexander

That is when we must stand together for the freedoms so many fought for, and installed for the good of all those gathered together in the desire for our freedom of life, living, and beliefs.

©Cheryle Alexander

Clif Burns

(IG: clifburns; Flickr; Clif’s website)
When I think of freedom, I think of being able to fly wherever you want, something these two birds (snapped over the Memorial Day weekend while I was visiting friends in Florida) can do without buying tickets, getting delayed by cancelled flights or worrying because the guy in the seat next to you has been coughing throughout the entire flight.

©Clif Burns
©Clif Burns

Mark Caicedo

(IG: setlistthief; Flickr)

Even though these images are from a few years ago, they remind me of the strength it takes to speak your mind, to hold firm in your beliefs, and do the work to ensure freedom. I wrote the following words that day.

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In many ways, irony being the chief one, Hillary Clinton’s loss unleashed an energy on this nation much stronger than if she had been elected President. The day after Trump assumed office, millions of women (and men, teenagers, and children) took to the streets throughout the country to protest what was coming from this administration.

A year and a half later, we’ve been proven right. Dismantling of affordable health care insurance, loosening of environmental regulations, wealth transfers from the poor and middle class to society’s richest, extolling the virtues of white nationalism, and now this: separating immigrant families from their children, placing them in cages, having them sleep under “solar blankets,” and housing them in converted warehouses and Wal-marts.

The fact that our government is doing all these things in our name is too much to bear. How could we have, after nearly a decade of governance that, though far from perfect, nonetheless expanded the economy, instituted equality, and guaranteed health care for all citizens, ended up with an administration so cruel, so lacking, so ignorant, so totally devoid of decency?

I’ve struggled with the fact that my day to day is essentially unchanged. I get up, I go to work, I come home to a comfortable house. My family and I are safe. Our privilege protects us. Yet I see what is happening around me and I feel unsettled, angry, conflicted, weak, ashamed.

To bear witness to, and document, “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens,” as Margaret Mead said, working to change the world gave me hope that we aren’t so helpless in the face of this monstrous administration.

The chanting, the singing, the roar of a thousand women’s voices in the Atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building was music I will never forget. The policeman with the bullhorn requesting that the crowd disperse and warning that arrests were imminent was utterly silenced by the reverberations of hope, determination and power.

Power that will never be taken away.

Day of Action, Women’s March, Washington, DC. June 28, 2018. ©Mark Caicedo

This caption is not a joke. This protester was the last one remaining of the nearly 600 arrested. She remained defiant, raising her fists, leading chants among those watching. Finally, she was detained, wheeled out of the building by a Capitol Hill policeman to massive applause, cheers, and encouragement from those of us who remained behind.

Last Woman Standing, Hart Office Building, Washington, DC. June 28, 2018. ©Mark Caicedo

Doug Duvall

(IG: maryland_route_5)
Freedom to me, particularly in my retirement, is the ability to document important events in our city. I always carry my trusty Nikon COOLPIX P950 with me, especially to document things spontaneously, like this young woman standing at Rhode Island and North Capitol the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

©Doug Duvall
©Doug Duvall

Joe Flood

(IG: joeflood; Website)
I was inspired to see these young protesters at the Women’s March. Freedom of speech is key to democracy and provides a slim hope for the future of this country.

Women’s March. ©Joe Flood

The pursuit of happiness is a uniquely American right. It means the freedom to be who you want to be.

Pride Parade. ©Joe Flood

Shannon Heaton

(IG: nekosandpiper)
This picture is from Cedar Run Falls, the weekend right after Roe was overturned. I went to the Shenandoah National Park and couldn’t think of a better time to walk into the woods and have a good SCREAM.

©Shannon Heaton

And here we have the Mannequin Bride of Frankenstein from the town of Poolesville. I passed her everyday on my “wellness walk” mid-day at work. These walks started somewhat ironically after a meeting (that could have been an email) about finding work-life balance during these strange times…

©Shannon Heaton

Rob Klug

(IG: osoikame)

Which of our freedoms is the next to go? These photos were taken in front of the Supreme Court following the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Tempers were flaring and the anger was palpable. These are worrisome times for freedom.

©Rob Klug
©Rob Klug

Roland Johnson

(IG: millibenthic)
I went to see “Afro-Atlantic Histories” at the National Gallery of Art, and noticed the enlarged version of Zanele Muholi’s “Ntozakhe II, (Parktown)”, at the eastern entrance. I thought it made an interesting contrast with Antonio Canova’s “Naiad”, on many, many levels, especially the freedom to express themselves that Muholi has.

Contrasts. ©Roland Johnson

I went up to SCOTUS in the early evening of 05.09.2022 to take some photos. Capitol workers started to put up fencing to contain and redirect future protesters. Combined with the protester holding the sign, it felt like freedoms of expression and bodily autonomy were being shut down, hard.

Shutdown. ©Roland Johnson

Gloria Jones

Freedom for me has meant getting out into nature. A sign on one of the tree markers as you enter the trail to Annapolis Rocks reads “if you are the victor in your heart right now you will be victors after going through the entire course.” ~Sun Myung Moon

©Gloria Jones

The first photo was taken at the Appalachian Trail I-70 footpath and the other is of the view that makes you the victor of the course.

©Gloria Jones

Kristine Jones

(IG: 3women4craft2market)
I met Carolyn Tuft at the @momsdemand rally. Carolyn was shot when a gunman opened fire at Trolley Square mall (in Salt Lake City), where she and her daughter Kirsten were shopping for Valentine’s Day cards in 2007. Both were shot multiple times. Kirsten did not survive. The shooter killed five people including Carolyn’s daughter, and injured four others before he was gunned down by police. Carolyn has shared her heartbreaking story on @momsdemand website.

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Carolyn came to DC this week to talk to her senator, @senatorromney, who did not have the time to meet with her. He has also not responded to any the of the letters and messages Carolyn and her family have sent him.

In addition to the shock from the trauma of losing a child, she also has had 23 surgeries, and lead poisoning from 300 shotgun pellets still in her body, leaving her with debilitating headaches, nausea and other serious health problems.

“There are several reasons why I feel compelled to share our story but, first and foremost, to honor my daughter. It’s not the way anyone should have to live, so if there’s anything I can do to prevent somebody else from living this life, then that’s exactly what I’ll do. Kirsten was an incredibly talented artist, very sweet, really funny and had an infectious laugh. She was a kind-hearted soul who loved animals. I’ve had so many people from her high school tell me she was the girl who would sit next to them when no one else would. She made them feel important. She SAW people for who they were; she accepted and loved them. And then there’s the hell I’ve experienced as a survivor of gun violence. Living with chronic pain is exhausting and excruciatingly painful. It’s drained me financially and destroyed my credit. I lost my ability to work, I lost my business, I lost my healthy, strong body, I lost the ability to provide for myself and my family, I lost my home, I lost my child, I lost the person I used to be. It’s not the way anyone should have to live, so if there’s anything I can do to prevent somebody else from living this life, then that’s exactly what I’ll do.”

– Carolyn Tuft @momsdemand 
Carolyn Tuft. ©Kristine Jones

A 2020 Pew Research Center survey found that roughly 75% of U.S. adults say they are in favor of granting permanent legal status in these Deferred Action for Childhood (DACA) cases. But congressional efforts to pass a legislative solution have repeatedly failed, leaving DACA recipients in the same precarious position ten years later. 

Home is Here. DACA is not Enough. Citizenship NOW. ©Kristine Jones

Miki Jourdan

(IG: mikijourdan; Flickr)
Earlier this year, 100-year-old World War II vet Less Edmondson visited Washington as part of the Indy Honor Flight. The Honor Flight program brings veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War to Washington to celebrate their service. Due to delays because of the pandemic, this was Indy’s first honor flight since 2019. I thank PFC Edmondson for fighting for our freedom all those years ago.

©Miki Jourdan

Mike Landsman

(IG: landsman_photoworks)
Documenting the reactions to the SCOTUS decisions, followed by a walk in the park.

©Mike Landsman
©Mike Landsman

Stacey Lewis

(IG: itsmestaceyl)
I never worked so hard for a photo. The crowd was emotional and loud; everyone was still raw over the overturning of Roe v Wade. There was a girl walking in front of the White House with a tattered, holey American flag (very symbolic). When the wind cooperated, I saw that a girl’s face was noticeable through one of the holes. I contorted myself in every position I could think and, finally, nature cooperated and I was able to make this image.

©Stacey Lewis

There’s a backstory to this image. I didn’t get her name, but she told me her plan to pour fake blood over her in front of the Court to demonstrate her solidarity to women at higher risk of maternal mortality (predominantly Black women). I reminded her that someone had thrown red paint on the sidewalk the prior week and got arrested. She was glad I mentioned it, but it didn’t dissuade her or her friend that shot the video. Besides she said, “My Dad will bail me out.” She didn’t get arrested.

©Stacey Lewis

Marci Lindsay

(IG: marcislindsay; website)
I’ve front-loaded my summer travel this year. First my husband and I went on a sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands, something we’ve dreamed about doing since we first visited the islands over 20 years ago. Do what you love!

©Marci Lindsay

Then I accompanied him on a business trip to London, where I got to shoot the Pride Parade around Trafalgar Square. But the night before the parade, this amazing rainbow appeared in the Square as we rushed through between downpours. As my husband ran on ahead, I snapped this scene. Or is it a sign?

©Marci Lindsay

Chris Marcum

(IG: csmarcum)
Freedom for me is the outdoors. Intentional or serendipitous, day or night, time spent outside under the sky with nature is my liberation.

©Chris Marcum
©Chris Marcum

Angela N.

(IG: angelaon; Flickr)
While Angela frequently takes photos of animals in zoos, she is inspired by creatures in the wild. This is a great blue heron nest she photographed at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park.

©Angela N.

Van Ngo

For this week’s community post, I’ve decided on two forms of exercising freedom. The freedom to shoot a TikTok video and celebrating the opening of Toby’s Handmade Ice Cream in Vienna.

©Van Ngo

My personal favorite so far is requesting a scoop of strawberry, rocky road and pistachio. And if Toby ever sees this post, he should call it the Toby Spumoni.

©Van Ngo

Kelly Paras

(IG: flipflopcaravan)
Outside the Supreme Court 6.26.22.

©Kelly Paras

Victoria Pickering

(IG: @vpickering, Flickr)

We owe so much to the police officers who died or suffered injuries defending our freedoms on January 6th. Several of them have been attending the January 6th hearings. Here are some of them as they arrive for the first hearing on June 9th.

Erin Smith, the widow of Capitol Police Officer Jeffrey Smith, and Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonelli. Sgt. Gonelli has had to leave the police force due to his injuries:

©Victoria Pickering

Officer Harry Dunn and Sandra Garza, the partner of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died the day after the attack:

©Victoria Pickering

Rimma Tsyhichko

[Editor’s note: Rimma is a reader of this blog from Ukraine.]
(Viewbug profile)

So we are talking about freedom. I chose two photos. One of them was taken in Kharkiv last year. I chose it because for lots of people a bird can be a symbol of freedom as it can rise above all the problems and prejudices.

©Rimma Tsyhichko

The other photo was taken here in Western Ukraine two months ago. I chose it because the opportunity to go anywhere you want is also a part of freedom.

©Rimma Tsyhichko

Arpita Upadhyaya

(IG: arpixa; Flickr)
Freedom to protest and fight for our rights…

©Arpita Upadhyaya

Freedom to be with nature…

©Arpita Upadhyaya

Jeff Vincent

(IG: jeff.vers2.0; Flickr)
This photo was taken from inside an Arlington, Va. coffee shop. I try to find an hour or so on weekday mornings to spend some quiet time there, relaxing and collecting my thoughts. At 74, I have the luxury (“freedom” you might say) of contemplating how our world is changing. My thoughts are viewed through the filter of a lifetime in public policy in Washington. I frequently think about how today’s problems will affect the lives of younger people. Very often these problems are described as “existential threats” to our democracy, our environment, and our personal freedoms. The challenges are incredibly daunting, but I maintain optimism that youth will rise to the occasion.

©Jeff Vincent

Angie White

(IG: awphotos84_)
Freedom to me is being able to attend carnivals again. My pictures are from the Baltimore/DC Caribbean Carnival.

Mocko Jumbie- Protector whose towering height made it easier to see evil before ordinary men. ©Angie White
Masquerader in yellow. ©Angie White

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  1. I’m honored to be included among so many excellent and meaningful photographs. Many of these images make very strong impressions — from haunting to inspiring to celebratory. Thanks for putting this together.

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