Bristol's Black Lives Matter movement captured on camera

By Harriet Robinson
Reporter

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Woman holding placard and Khali Ackford standing next to one of his imagesImage source, Khali Ackford / Alastair Brookes
Image caption,
"First and foremost I'm there to protest," said Mr Ackford

A new exhibition will "tell the story" of the people of Bristol during the city's Black Lives Matter movement.

This is Not a Moment features 19 images captured by photographer Khali Ackford.

Following the death of George Floyd in the US in May 2020, Mr Ackford focuses on the events that took place in Bristol, including the Colston Statue being thrown into the harbour.

The images will be displayed at the Royal Photographic Society in Bristol from 30 June.

"Being mixed heritage, it's a really important subject for me to document and elevate," said Mr Ackford.

Image source, Khali Ackford
Image caption,
Poet Solomon O.B was a prominent speaker at many of Bristol's BLM events

Mr Ackford predominantly works in music photography but while he was out of work during the pandemic, he changed his focus.

"It kind of gave me a bit of a breather to think about what I wanted to photograph and what was important to me."

He was one of 10,000 people who marched through Bristol on 7 June as part of a Black Lives Matter protest following George Floyd's death.

"For me, especially, because a lot of people couldn't come out of their houses to the protests, it was a way for me to show the emotion and to take the protest back into people's homes," he said.

Image source, Khali Ackford
Image caption,
"I'm looking for that emotion," said Mr Ackford

The photographer said when the Edward Colston statue was torn down "I didn't really know what I was documenting".

"I don't think anyone knew what Bristol was going to do to influence people around the world.

"It was such an emotional day that I continued to document the Black Lives Matter protests," he added.

Mr Ackford said his photography is about "looking for that emotion and those energetic moments that really represent what's going on on that day".

"It's about finding those narratives and not misleading or skewing them in any way and telling the story of the people."

Image source, Khali Ackford
Image caption,
Mr Ackford said his exhibition documents a time of Covid-19 and racial injustice

The exhibition showcases 19 of Mr Ackford's images, including an "emotional" kneel by protesters for 8mins 46secs (the length of time George Floyd was knelt on by police officers).

"It was a beautiful reflective moment," he added.

Another image shows the photographer's mother hugging his sister for the first time in four months during the pandemic.

Mr Ackford said she had "struggled" walking past the Colston statue in the past, so when she realised it was down she was overcome with emotion.

"I'm really pleased that The Royal Photographic Society and Martin Parr Foundation have commissioned this," he added.

"A lot of organisations put out statements when George Floyd was murdered about redressing the balance and I kind of pulled them up on it and was like right, how are you going to help?"

Image source, Alastair Brookes
Image caption,
Mr Ackford said his work elevates and celebrates his heritage and culture, while looking at racial injustice

Mr Ackford explained there had been "a lot of struggles" within his own story.

"But I'm quite light-skinned, so I've got a lot of privilege and I know that, so I can hold space for people who don't normally get that opportunity.

"Bristol's a great city with beautiful people, and I feel like, as segregated as it is, it's very diverse and very understanding," he added.

This is Not a Moment is on view from 30 June - 18 September.

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