Culture Wars/Current Controversies

A photographer who covered five years of Trump rallies on the most disturbing thing he saw—and his fears for the future.

One thing that is interesting about culture war partisans is the way they always think the government, police, corporations, or whoever favors their rivals and that the other side’s extremists are really in cahoots with law enforcement or the intelligence services.

By Aymann Ismail, Slate

Photographer Zach D Roberts has been chronicling Donald Trump’s rallies from the beginning. And he was there last weekend for one of their last gasps during Trump’s presidency, the Million MAGA March in Washington, where he documented a now-familiar sight: Violent far-right groups like the Proud Boys mingling interchangeably with rank-and-file Trump supporters, intent on instigating the protesters and counterprotesters as much as possible.

Roberts kept his nerve for five years. His photos have appeared in both right- and left-leaning publications, which is good, he told me, because it makes it easier to pass himself off as “neutral” when covering groups like the Proud Boys, Patriot Front, and the Boogaloo movement. Roberts was documenting right-wing rallies long before Trump was on the scene—he covered NRA marches back in 2006—but he says he’s never seen marches like the ones he has recently. Over the phone, we talked about what he’s captured in four years of rallies, whether he believes his work might amplify the extreme groups he covers, and what happens once Trump leaves office. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.


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