BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Following the death of George Floyd, protests have been held across the country.
Powerful images have been printed and shared online. One of the most powerful was captured by a Baltimore resident.
Associated Press Staff Photographer Julio Cortez, who lives in Baltimore, was recently sent to Minneapolis to cover the protest.
“We were getting a lot of great content,” Cortez said. “But there’s always the competitive part of me where it’s like, you know, I wish we could do better.”
Not long after landing, Cortez met up with a colleague and got to work, bringing the pain of a city into focus.
“You’re running around, you’re trying to pick out who’s going to be the most vocal, who’s going to be the most aggressive, who’s going to be the most emotional,” Cortez said.
The team was brought to an overrun police precinct. While there, they were alerted that gas lines may have been cut in the building, so they quickly snapped photos and left.
Shortly thereafter, just before midnight, Cortez captured one of the most powerful images to come out of the protests; a man carrying an upside-down American flag past a burning building.
“I look to my right where there’s nobody, everything is over here, and here comes this guy with the flag, “ Cortez said. “I was just like, I know there’s danger over there with the gas lines, but I’m going to follow him.”
With the press of a button, a thousand words were captured. Cortez said he almost didn’t get the shot.
“While I’m running getting pictures, I’m looking at the camera and making sure that they look good,” Cortez said. “They weren’t, and I just so happen my next photo, when I got into the perfect position everything was just perfect.”
He spent 10 days in Minneapolis, even covering George Floyd’s memorial service before returning home to his wife and two young boys, who could one day learn a history lesson through their father’s photos
“You don’t shoot photos to get notoriety, or to become famous, or put it in the history books but then again you do, at least the history part of it,” Cortez said, who gives a lot of credit to all of his fellow photographers for working together and helping keep each other safe.