Protests and looting erupted across the United States following a grand jury's decision not to charge a white police officer in the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Clouds of tear gas filled the streets of Ferguson, forcing demonstrators to run for cover. Standing among broken bottles and shop windows, one woman doused herself in Milk of Magnesia to relieve the symptoms.
"The emotion in her face communicates the situation she was in."
On the evening of November 24, I was covering the reaction of residents in Ferguson, Missouri to the decision by the St. Louis County grand jury to not bring criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who fatally shot black teenager Michael Brown more than three months ago.
Hundreds of people, including Brown’s mother, had gathered outside the Ferguson Police Station waiting for the verdict, listening to the news on their car radios and mobile phones. When it became clear that no charges would be brought against the officer, people started to march and voice their frustration.
The crowd was quickly confronted by police in riot gear, who asked them to get off the streets. After several minutes of a peaceful standoff, the crowd turned their frustration towards a police vehicle, throwing bricks at it and attempting to flip it over.
Police fired tear gas and pushed them back towards the police station – the situation became more intense and chaotic soon afterwards. Bottles were thrown at the police, shop windows were smashed. A second round of tear gas followed.
As I tried to escape the scene myself, I saw a woman sitting in her car yelling for help. She stumbled out of her car and was searching for an escape route. As I was wearing a gas mask, I took her hand and guided her in a direction away from the tear gas.
She had a blue plastic bottle in her hand and was using a white, milky substance to clear her eyes and her mouth, which I believe was Milk of Magnesia. After I felt she was secure and able to manage her way out of the tear gas, I started photographing her.
There are three elements which I feel make this image stand out: The newsworthiness of the background with the Ferguson Police Department towards the left, the emotion in her face which communicates the situation she was in and, finally, the milky substance on her face which grips your curiosity and makes you want to read the caption for an explanation of what’s going on.
Some of the biggest challenges for me were shooting images in an extremely low light situation, watching people loot businesses and feeling uncomfortable raising the camera to photograph, as well as being separated from other colleges for short periods of time.