Danny Lyon, Guns Are Passed to the Picket Tower, Ferguson Unit, Midway, Texas, 1968

During a brief speech made upon receiving the Missouri Honor Medal in Journalism, documentary photographer Danny Lyon made an astonishing call for insurgency in America:

“I just heard the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are spreading … I heard they will march on Washington on Oct 15th. You students should go!” then he paused. “I hope [there] will be blood in the streets!”

“There, I said it, ” he added.

Lyon evokes the blood spilt as matter of course to forward the campaigns of the American revolution, the civil rights movement, and the anti-Vietnam protests.

I cannot argue with his politics but I am not ready to make a call for “blood on the streets.” Maybe, I am not brave enough; maybe I am still hopeful that meaningful change can occur in America through non-violent means. I just know if a right-winger made similar calls, I’d be repelled.

I bring this up because Lyon and I are scheduled for an interview in December and his comments must be revisited and tested.

For the benefit of the media, Lyon penned an 11-point “laundry list” of issues he wishes to see addressed – jail terms for the bankers responsible for the economic crash; rights for immigrant workers; jobs to enrich the environment. Items 9 and 10 caught my eye:

9) Abolition of the American prison system as it stands.
10) Immediate reviews and interviews inside state or federal prisons by public committees and parole boards with any inmates that have been inside prison for twenty calender years.

Prisons have grown as a result of social division, greed and flawed abstract notions of justice – seemingly, the same damaging forces in *free* society to which Lyon responds.