As an African American man, this wasn't the first time I'd had a close encounter with police. But it was certainly the first time I smelled tear gas or had to don body armor.
In April 2015, I was a production assistant at VICE on HBO, and my executive producer tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Givens, do you want to go to Baltimore?" I said, "Hell yeah!" So I got my gear together, and within 30 minutes, we were on the road. I spent the next 48 hours documenting the protests that followed Freddie Gray's death. The trip was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
As an African American man, it wasn't the first time I'd had a close encounter with police, but it was certainly the first time I smelled tear gas or had to don body armor. On the second night of the protests, I split from my crew to get footage of the National Guard spraying the crowd with rubber bullets. I found this one on the ground and kept it as a good-luck charm. —DAVID GIVENS, EQUIPMENT MANAGER