Resisters of the Rust Belt: A Photo Essay by Garrett MacLean

2018-01-22T07:54:53+00:00 December 28th, 2017|



When Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, it kicked off a year of protests the likes of which have not been seen in this country since the Nixon presidency. On Trump’s first full day in office, the Women’s March on Washington became known as the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history, with 1 million protesters descending on the nation’s capital alone.

While the Women’s March saw up to 4 million more protesters at satellite demonstrations across the country, the national media seemed only to further the narrative of a divided nation of blue states and red states, with galvanized resistance in places like New York City and D.C., and, as reported in the New York Times article, “In a Rust Belt Town, the Women’s March Draws Shrugs and Cheers from Afar,” indifference in places like Niles, Michigan.

As Belt Magazine’s own Martha Bayne observed at the time, the NYT writer was nine paragraphs into her story before she included a Michigander who was cognizant of the protests happening around the country.

“The Times’s package included scenes from reporters on the ground in Boston, Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, Key West, Fla., St. Paul, Los Angeles, and, of course, New York and D.C.,” wrote Bayne. “But you’d never know the march in Cleveland drew 15,000 people; that one in Pittsburgh had a crowd of 25,000. Women marched in Lansing, and in Kalamazoo, and in the Rust Belt’s favorite daughter, Detroit. Not to mention the more than 1,000 people who turned out in South Bend.”

The photographer Garrett MacLean, who’s based in Detroit, Michigan, shares Bayne’s frustration, and has been documenting “Resisters of the Rust Belt” in the Trump Era since the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Contrary to the depiction in the aforementioned Times article, MacLean says, “I frequently had the problem of having to choose which of the numerous protests I would attend, given the abundance of gatherings across the Midwest. Sometimes, I even photographed multiple protests in a single day.

“At these protests,” MacLean continues, “I encountered such a diverse group of people — varying in age, race, gender, and sexual orientation — coming together in their opposition to, or support of a pressing issue.”

Here, MacLean shares some of his photos, from an AntiFa group representing the Great Lakes at the dueling Pro-Trump and Juggalos rallies in D.C. (see above), to a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Toledo, a Planned Parenthood march in Ann Arbor, an anti-white supremacy rally in Chicago, and more. —Jordan Heller

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