Culture Wars/Current Controversies

‘Everyone Was Screaming at Them.’ The Story Behind Those Photos of the Counter-Protesting Health Care Workers

Our nation is going full Monty Python.

By Maia Booker


As small groups of demonstrators gathered in cities nationwide to protest the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns, one set of images in particular have been widely shared online. Taken by Colorado-based photographer Alyson McClaran in Denver on April 19, they show what she believes to be healthcare workers blocking the path of the demonstrators, who want the state and country reopened despite public health officials’ warnings that doing so would invite more cases and more death.

IME reached out to McClaran to learn more about the photographs and her experience at the Denver protest. Her answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

TIME: How did your day start out, were you on assignment?

McClaran: Because of the coronavirus, I hadn’t picked up my camera in over a month, which is unheard of for me. I’m typically shooting five to six days a week. Yesterday I decided to go out and document the protest. I wasn’t on assignment for anyone.

What precautions did you take?

I started out at the state Capitol in downtown Denver. It was very crowded. I had my mask on and did my best to social distance from people, but didn’t feel safe, so I decided to leave and walk around the neighborhood. I saw two nurses in the middle of the street. I took off running towards them and started firing away my camera, because they were blocking the road at a green light and everyone was screaming and honking at them, and those are the images that you see.


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