Portrait of a Radical Swarm

Salamishah Tillet, The Nation, April 29, 2022

From Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter, Accra Shepp's protest photographs have dissolved the boundaries between the individual and the collective.

Alright, you 90,000 redeemers, rebels and radicals out there.” So opened the inaugural call for Occupy Wall Street. Linked in a tweet that Adbusters, the Vancouver-based activist collective behind the eponymous anticonsumerist magazine, posted on June 9, 2011, their charge went on: “The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.” 

Inspired by the Arab Spring; protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square; and 15-M, the mostly youth-led anti-austerity movement that erupted in Spanish cities in 2011 (including an outpouring of 28,000 protesters in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square, in 2011), the idea was for 20,000 people to flood Lower Manhattan and occupy Wall Street for several months.

“Once there,” the text read, “we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.”