Detroit, MI, United States
Jason Gardner Story Statement:
This photo essay is edited from a longform story commissioned by Buzzfeed News about a 15 year old, African American boy named Jason Gardner who was found beaten near an aqueduct behind the mobile home community where he was living in New Haven, Indiana. Things had been contentious in the community for the Gardner family before the attack so the story explored the tension there and the attack's stressful aftermath. Having been overtly threatened on a number of occasions leading up the Jason’s attack, the family quickly fled to a less affordable home in nearby Fort Wayne.
Jason’s mother, La’Kysha, become very vocal on Facebook after the attack to stir up outrage in Fort Wayne’s black community regarding the attack itself and the multiple issues surrounding the police response. Indiana is one of a handful of states without hate crime laws and local activists used Jason’s attack as a case to leverage a change in the state’s law.
From observing Jason’s interactions with his mother and the activists that frequented their new home, he wasn’t particularly interested in the political nature of his attack. He was simply scared and eager for closure. I tried to photograph from his perspective, ending the essay showing him caught in the middle of a fiery discussion between his parents and activists.
I'm a Detroit based photographer interested in digging into every day situations and coming out with compelling stories. I love visually showcasing the world in the most objective and truthful way possible, while retaining a tinge of optimism and humor. Photography has allowed me to travel extensively: studying in Paris at Spéos Photographic Institute, photographing wind turbine technicians in Oregon for Siemens Wind Power, and spending half of 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria working with The African Artists' Foundation and LagosPhoto. I specialize in editorial, reportage, and portrait work.
Jason Gardner Buzzfeed Story
On June 6, 2017, Jason Gardner, 15, was attacked by a group of boys near an aqueduct behind Cedarwood Trails mobile home park in New Haven, Indiana.