Justyn Diaz: Photography & Politics

While standing on a large stereo within view of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Justyn Diaz pictures himself on a podium inspiring a crowd of tens of thousands.

“I’d like to run for president,” he said. “Be the voice of the multitudes who have none.”

He pointed his Nikon d7200 at Bernie Sanders, carefully zoomed in, anticipated for the moment, and quickly, with a swift click of a button he took the picture. Immediately after, he hung his camera on his neck and raised his arm. Chants yelling “Bernie!” drowned the area. The night engulfed the ralliers, but with their passion they drove away the cold.

Earlier in the day, Diaz hastily left Columbia Secondary School (CSS) after the dismissal at 2:25, attempting to arrive at Washington Square Park by 3:00. He took the A train to West 4th and fast-walked to the rally, evading the Verizon employees on strike who were stationed on the corner of each block. He reached the volunteer sign up in time and met a man named Tom — a staff member for the day. Tom was eager to yell , but not out of anger. He was passionate, and Justyn liked that.

There were two young adults next to the stand. They yelled tirelessly, labelling Bernie Sanders as “sinful” and “against God.” Tom laughed at their religious dogma, and Justyn couldn’t help laughing either. Before joining the press team Justyn received a Bernie t-shirt, button, and stickers. He recalled the Bronx rally for Bernie Sanders that didn’t provide merchandise. No love for the Bronx he concluded.

Justyn’s passion for politics started early in his last year of middle school.“It began with Ron Paul during the 2012 election.” he said with an embarrassed look on his face. “I certainly don’t agree with the 2012 Justyn anymore, but I am thankful.”

In 2012, Ron Paul ran as presidential candidate against Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination. Libertarians regarded Ron Paul highly and were disappointed when he was not granted the nomination during the Republican Convention.

“During that time, in middle school, my attendance struggled, but politics inspired me.” he recalled. “Instead of going to Riverside Park every day after school I focused on my studies. Now I’m happy to be going to Bard.”

Justyn was also elected as President of his high school student government at CSS earlier this year. He described the feeling as being “incredible.”

During his academic resurgence Justyn picked up his first camera — a Nikon d70s. He looked at  it and smiled, pleased to have found a medium to express himself. The camera represented a positive change in his life, an inspiration to do something great. When the 2016 election came into view he quickly turned the corner.

“Hillary is another regret,” he said laughing. “She seemed like the best candidate, but Bernie began his candidacy.”

Since the day Sanders announced he was running Justyn has held unwavering support for him. On March 31, 2016 he volunteered at the Bronx rally, where he stood behind the podium Sanders was speaking on.

Photo taken by Justyn Diaz.
Photo taken by Justyn Diaz.

Justyn was finally inside of Washington Square Park. He was no more than 20 feet in front of Bernie Sanders. His task was simple; let the media through, but nobody would dare to attempt passing the thousands of Bernie supporters. So, Justyn didn’t have much to do. First came Vampire Weekend. They finished playing “A-Punk” and asked the New York University students and Columbia University students to forget their bourgeois rivalries tonight in, for Bernie Sanders. A number of speakers came on afterwards. Spike Lee and Rosario Dawson waved their support for Bernie Sanders.

He came on stage, what everyone was there for. Mr. Bernie Sanders for all to see. And he did not disappoint.

His speech contained the usual, but also the exciting prospect of a political revolution. Justyn was all about that. He agreed and he nodded his head continuously. The system needs change.

“He knows what’s wrong.” a fellow volunteer said.

Bernie Sanders ended his speech as usual: his hands in the air like a conductor, raising the atmosphere and noise. The night came to an end and Bernie Sanders proceeded to the car awaiting him. The crowd rushed to the gates that were stopping them from reaching their savior. The guards warned against having anything in their hands as they reached for a handshake. The chants began again. “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!,” they sang. Justyn reached for Mr. Sanders with his phone at the ready. Bernie passed by quickly, but reluctantly at the hesitation of his guards. Mr. Sanders took notice of Justyn’s outstretched palm and dutifully shook it, and all the while Justyn filmed the interaction. He caught the essence of Bernie; happy, cheerful, friendly, trustworthy.

There he was: smiling, laughing, and feeling alive. Justyn lives for this.

 

About p.morocho

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