Sketching While Getting Tear Gassed

A few weeks ago I spent the day sketching the crowds when President Trump came to Phoenix. I was inspired by urban sketchchers in Hong Kong that sketched the protests there a few years ago. Their sketches helped me connect in an emotional way to what otherwise would have just been a news story I'd probably skip reading. And after Charlottesville, I thought it was important to record what was happening. 

I started the afternoon sketching Trump supporters and then the protestors. My sketches include a guy selling Pro-Trump t-shirts and a biker for Trump, a protestor raising his fist in defiance, right-wing militia carrying guns to intimidate and left-wing militia with guns to counteract, a man getting screamed at by a white supremist and the pained face of a black policeman protecting a Nazi yelling at him to go back to Africa. 

Finally as the night wore on the police fired tear gas into the crowd. I sketched the police in their riot gear as my eyes watered and the crowd and police stood off against each other. In the picture, the green cloud in the back is tear gas. 

It was probably my most intense sketching experience, and maybe my most intense experiences as an American.  I'm 50 now and I've never seen anything like what is going on in our country.. The division is so stark and the sides so filled with derision for each other.  Sometimes I feel like I don't recognize my country anymore. I hope that our future returns us to a level of civility we seem to have lost for the moment.