Black filmmaker Tommy Oliver could not just sit back and watch the rallies for George Floyd. As a filmmaker, he knew the importance of his platform and the power of the media. “The power to inspire, the power to incite, the power to challenge,” is what Oliver says compelled him to go out and capture the power of the protests and document the images.
Without a press pass, he was on the frontlines taking photos of the June 7 protests, aware that he was putting himself in front of police and amidst crowds in the middle of a pandemic.
Oliver, producer of “The Perfect Guy,” and co-creator of “Black Love” talks about his widely-shared Hollywood Boulevard photo and what it was like being on the ground.
Tell me about capturing this photo and what that meant to you personally.
I had the good fortune to be on the truck leading the protest, which happened because Kendrick Sampson, co-founder of BLD PWR (one of the two groups that organized the protest), is a friend who was leading the rally from the truck and he was ok with me getting a ride.
Eventually, the truck stopped midway between Highland and Orange on Hollywood Blvd. as the sea of protesters literally ran for as far as the eye could see. Janaya “Future” Khan got on the mic and asked for signs to be lowered and fists raised in a show of solidarity unlike any I’ve ever seen in my life — 50,000-plus strong, all unified. I snapped a few pics from the bed of the truck and realizing the magnitude of what was happening, I climbed from the bed of the truck to the roof and quickly snapped a few from up there.