Chicago, Daley/Machine, Exhibitions, Germany, Illinois, Interviews, Italy, Media-Military Relations, NATO, Poland, Policing, Politics, Publications, Rahm Emanuel, Serbia, Slideshows, slovakia, Sme, Syria, United States

Best of 2015: Chicago, Poland, Serbia and Germany

This was a year of terrorist attacks, mass shootings a-plenty, mass exodus from the Middle East, North and East Africa and the AfPak region which does not include India but a small number from Bangladesh, rising xenophobic far right sentiment, and an uptick in hostility towards Muslims unprecedented since immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The far right so far has been kept on the back burner, but the slow slide into what I liken to the Brezhnev years of the Cold War for the Global War on Terror (GWoT) years is upon us. The American presidential elections offer little reason or occasion for hope. The state of affairs in Syria, too, offers little occasion for hope. “Assad must go” has converted into the new “red line,” as US Secretary of State John Kerry concedes Assad can stay because the US has no one else to pluck out of an abyss of alternatives. The whole world has heard of the Islamic State and the international media relishes any opportunity to put the group’s name in the headlines as click bait fodder since they are the new Nazis, Communists, the epitome of All Evil. The media is now a fundamental organ of terror, a crisis without hostages and arms and the media is no longer a terror attack. This is not to say we don’t do good, but let’s take an honest, hard look at the function and role of media beyond “reporting the story” and “telling the truth”. These clichés are nice, romantic even, but ultimately exculpating and help facilitate the removal of critical thinking from the equation.

And of course in my own city, 16 shots fired by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke 14 months ago into Laquan McDonald’s body in front of a Burger King at 40th and Pulaski in Archer Heights has led to street protests, public apologies, and a stubborn mayor who will see out his term until the very last minute to spite us all and remind us that he is, no matter how much Chicagoans try to assert he is not, the boss. Just today, his office was listed on Craig’s List and teenagers at Urban Prep Academy in Englewood chanted 16 shots as he left their gymnasium. Welcome to the end of 2015, the year the Middle East blew up in Russia and America’s faces, Europe took in millions and is keeping millions out and the Americans are putting on a carnival of a pre-election season. Now for my pictures from the year…

In August, I had my first museum show open in Milan at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, “Sustenance: Chicago and the Food Chain” focusing on childhood nutrition in Chicago. Here are my favorite frames from the show, which was shot over months beginning late last year.

Groceries behind bulletproof glass at We Serve Food Mart at 10857 S. Halsted in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois on January 2, 2015.  At the We Serve Food Mart, a gallon of milk costs $3.49, a carton of eggs costs $1.49, a can of tuna costs $1.49 and a load of bread costs $1.25 and ground beef was unavailable at the time.

Groceries behind bulletproof glass at We Serve Food Mart at 10857 S. Halsted in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois on January 2, 2015. At the We Serve Food Mart, a gallon of milk costs $3.49, a carton of eggs costs $1.49, a can of tuna costs $1.49 and a load of bread costs $1.25 and ground beef was unavailable at the time.

Matthew Peters, 17, reflected in a goldfish basin while examining a a plant he grew in the aguaponics lab at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, Illinois on March 19, 2015.  Lane Tech, a Chicago Public High School, has cultivated the program with support from the Century Foundation and the school's alumni association as well as donations from Brew and Grow and Home Depot.

Matthew Peters, 17, reflected in a goldfish basin while examining a a plant he grew in the aguaponics lab at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, Illinois on March 19, 2015. Lane Tech, a Chicago Public High School, has cultivated the program with support from the Century Foundation and the school’s alumni association as well as donations from Brew and Grow and Home Depot.

Alex Warner, 10, of Rantoul, Illinois waits to show his angus cow "Little Rascal" at the Champaign County Fair  in Urbana, Illinois on July 30, 2015.  Summer is county fair season and in Illinois, that means food, 4H, and the midway; Warner's angus cow placed first in the lightweight class of angus cow.

Alex Warner, 10, of Rantoul, Illinois waits to show his angus cow “Little Rascal” at the Champaign County Fair in Urbana, Illinois on July 30, 2015. Summer is county fair season and in Illinois, that means food, 4H, and the midway; Warner’s angus cow placed first in the lightweight class of angus cow.

A student at the Galapagos School walks home with half a melon left at the end of an interactive presentation on building healthy school lunches in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois on February 12, 2015.

A student at the Galapagos School walks home with half a melon left at the end of an interactive presentation on building healthy school lunches in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois on February 12, 2015.

In June, I went to Poland to photograph the biggest US Army-organized NATO exercise in Eastern Europe to date. While “Saber Strike” is an annual exercise, the number of nations and personnel involved, in addition to land, air, and sea exercises made it fairly historic and earned the work a TIME LightBox Slideshow, “See NATO’s Massive Training Exercises in Eastern Europe“.

German soldiers including Captain Maximilian Beenisch (at left) beside a howitzer at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 10, 2015.  NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise "Saber Strike," the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

German soldiers including Captain Maximilian Beenisch (at left) beside a howitzer at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 10, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise “Saber Strike,” the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

American soldiers with Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division with M1A2 Abrams tanks after a tank training exercise practicing infiltration at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 12, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise "Saber Strike," the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

American soldiers with Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division with M1A2 Abrams tanks after a tank training exercise practicing infiltration at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 12, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise “Saber Strike,” the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

American soldiers with Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in M1A2 Abrams tanks during a tank training exercise practicing infiltration at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 12, 2015.    NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise "Saber Strike," the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

American soldiers with Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in M1A2 Abrams tanks during a tank training exercise practicing infiltration at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 12, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise “Saber Strike,” the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

Sergeant Stephen Murphy with the Fourth of the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team monitors an airdrop from a C-17 aircraft that took off from Nuremberg, Germany before it drops members of his unit at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 15, 2015.  NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise "Saber Strike," the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

Sergeant Stephen Murphy with the Fourth of the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team monitors an airdrop from a C-17 aircraft that took off from Nuremberg, Germany before it drops members of his unit at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 15, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise “Saber Strike,” the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

An airdrop of American soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade parachute in from a C-130 during an airfield seizure exercise on the Swidwin Airfield in Poland on June 16, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise "Saber Strike," the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

An airdrop of American soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade parachute in from a C-130 during an airfield seizure exercise on the Swidwin Airfield in Poland on June 16, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise “Saber Strike,” the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

 American soldiers with the Fourth of the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team proceed to assemble a howitzer following an airdrop from a C-17 aircraft that took off from Nuremberg, Germany and dropped at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 15, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise "Saber Strike," the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.


American soldiers with the Fourth of the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team proceed to assemble a howitzer following an airdrop from a C-17 aircraft that took off from Nuremberg, Germany and dropped at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 15, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise “Saber Strike,” the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

American soldiers with the 173rd Airborne load and fire an M119A3 howitzer at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 18, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise "Saber Strike," the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

American soldiers with the 173rd Airborne load and fire an M119A3 howitzer at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 18, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise “Saber Strike,” the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

PB2 Michael Simkin with the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade maintains his position on a grassy knoll after parachuting in from a C-130 during an airfield seizure exercise on the Swidwin Airfield in Poland on June 16, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise "Saber Strike," the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

PB2 Michael Simkin with the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade maintains his position on a grassy knoll after parachuting in from a C-130 during an airfield seizure exercise on the Swidwin Airfield in Poland on June 16, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise “Saber Strike,” the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

In the fall, I followed the refugee trail to Europe briefly for a series of posts for Open Society Foundations’ Instagram, which they followed up with a Q+A on their Voices blog, “After A Long Haul, Refugees Settle Into New Lives Far From Home,” as well as a couple of stories for Slovakia’s largest daily, Sme, from Nuremberg and Berlin.

(L-r) Serbian nurse Ana Mitrovic and doctor Maja Grubac examine a girl from Syria at the Refugee Aid Serbia distribution center in Belgrade, Serbia on September 3, 2015.  Thousands of refugees mainly from Syria but also Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan have made the journey from Turkey to Greece and through Macedonia before arriving in Serbia on their way to Europe in search of a better life, mainly in Germany.

(L-r) Serbian nurse Ana Mitrovic and doctor Maja Grubac examine a girl from Syria at the Refugee Aid Serbia distribution center in Belgrade, Serbia on September 3, 2015. Thousands of refugees mainly from Syria but also Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan have made the journey from Turkey to Greece and through Macedonia before arriving in Serbia on their way to Europe in search of a better life, mainly in Germany.

The early morning crowds of refugees applying for asylum watch the board for their number to appear in front of Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales (LaGeSo), where refugees and asylum applicants arriving in Berlin must go to register their application for asylum, in the Moabit district of Berlin, Germany on September 28, 2015.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany will take 850,000 asylum applicants this year; after one receives a number, one must wait for it to be called in order to register, a process that has gone from taking six days of waiting to taking more than 20 days of waiting in just the last three weeks.

The early morning crowds of refugees applying for asylum watch the board for their number to appear in front of Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales (LaGeSo), where refugees and asylum applicants arriving in Berlin must go to register their application for asylum, in the Moabit district of Berlin, Germany on September 28, 2015. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany will take 850,000 asylum applicants this year; after one receives a number, one must wait for it to be called in order to register, a process that has gone from taking six days of waiting to taking more than 20 days of waiting in just the last three weeks.

Lastly, we come to Chicago, this place where “jaw-dropping corruption is a spectator sport” as The New Republic put it recently. Only if you are an outsider does the jaw drop. In Chicago, the jaw drops that we have a mayor who is not untouchable, whose mistakes pale in comparison to that of the father and the son who eventually anointed him, for the fact that the city is Balkanizing as everyone predicted just not so suddenly.

This fall has seen the execution of a nine-year old child named Tyshawn Lee at 80th and Damen, allegedly for his father, Pierre Stokes’, gang ties. It’s seen the firing of the Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who promised to obliterate the gangs, for following the mechanisms of the machine and its standard operating procedures when it comes to concealing police misconduct and suppressing videos of it. The street execution of Laquan McDonald by Police Officer Jason Van Dyke who fired 16 shots when five probably was enough to kill McDonald according to the footage evokes a saying made popular almost fifty years ago in this town: “The World Is Watching”. So when Rahm offered his belated, teary apology for police brutality, misconduct and slayings only because his political future was on the line, and of course did so in a shower of sanctimonious rhetoric – everything it seems must change but the mayor, who must stay because Rahm says Rahm gets to stay – no one quite bought it.

Mourners exit the visitation of Tyshawn Lee, 9, who was shot nine times while playing basketball in an alley on November 2, 2015, at St. Sabina's in Chicago, Illinois on November 10, 2015. Police allege the killing was a retaliatory gang hit which would mark a new turn in Chicago's gang wars.

Mourners exit the visitation of Tyshawn Lee, 9, who was shot multiple times while playing basketball in an alley on November 2, 2015, at St. Sabina’s in Chicago, Illinois on November 10, 2015. Police allege the killing was a retaliatory gang hit which would mark a new turn in Chicago’s gang wars.

Mourners gather around the hearse carrying the casket of Tyshawn Lee, 9, who was shot nine times while playing basketball in an alley on November 2, 2015, outside St. Sabina's Church following Lee's funeral in Chicago, Illinois on November 10, 2015. Police allege the killing was a retaliatory gang hit which would mark a new turn in Chicago's gang wars.

Mourners gather around the hearse carrying the casket of Tyshawn Lee, 9, who was shot multiple times while playing basketball in an alley on November 2, 2015, outside St. Sabina’s Church following Lee’s funeral in Chicago, Illinois on November 10, 2015. Police allege the killing was a retaliatory gang hit which would mark a new turn in Chicago’s gang wars.

Protesters calling on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign formed a circle and blocked traffic at State and Randolph in the Loop, Chicago, Illinois on December 9, 2015.  Emanuel offered a historic apology for the police killing of Laquan McDonald and police brutality and racial profiling generally -- without using those words -- in front of the City Council in the morning.

Protesters calling on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign formed a circle and blocked traffic at State and Randolph in the Loop, Chicago, Illinois on December 9, 2015. Emanuel offered a historic apology for the police killing of Laquan McDonald and police brutality and racial profiling generally — without using those words — in front of the City Council in the morning.

Protesters calling on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign formed a circle and blocked traffic at Michigan Avenue and Wacker in the Loop, Chicago, Illinois on December 9, 2015.  Emanuel offered a historic apology for the police killing of Laquan McDonald and police brutality and racial profiling generally -- without using those words -- in front of the City Council in the morning.

Protesters calling on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign formed a circle and blocked traffic at Michigan Avenue and Wacker in the Loop, Chicago, Illinois on December 9, 2015. Emanuel offered a historic apology for the police killing of Laquan McDonald and police brutality and racial profiling generally — without using those words — in front of the City Council in the morning.

Thank you for looking and sharing even this little part of 2015 with me! Happy New Year!