Ossie Michelin on his iconic fracking protest image
'It's gone on to be kind of a symbol,' APTN journalist says of Elsipogtog photo
A Labrador videojournalist was surprised to find out that a photo he took with his cellphone quickly became one of the most iconic images associated with fracking protests in New Brunswick.
Ossie Michelin, from North West River and a videojournalist with APTN, was covering anti-fracking demonstrations in Elsipogtog, N.B. for months, when things took a big turn one morning in mid-October.
He said he got a call on the morning of Oct. 17 from someone in the community, telling him that something was happening between protesters and police.
Michelin said protesters had set up a barricade blocking seismic testing trucks from leaving their lot to conduct shale gas surveys in the area.
"What happened that morning was the police moved in for a raid to break up the camp and get the vehicles out of there, so as we were approaching the camp there was a line of police cars and a few community members just kind of showing up one by one," he said.
According to Michelin, this was fairly odd, because people had been used to coming and going in the area uninhibited, and things quickly escalated
"There was a confrontation, people were shoving, pushing, police were tear gassing people, rubber bullets were being fired in the woods — you could hear them going off, and people yelling … things like that," he said.
Michelin said he took some photos with his cellphone quickly before he and a camera operator were moved out of the area.
He sent some of the photos out on his Twitter account, and went back into the fray to get coverage for TV programming that evening.
It wasn't until later that he looked at his Twitter account again, and realized that the photo had been shared widely.
"I was so busy in the middle of the protest that I had no idea what was going on in the outside world whatsoever," he said.
Michelin said he's proud that an image from the event surfaced that may have shown a different side of the situation.
"I just think it's really amazing just to watch how people have taken this picture that I just took with my phone, and changed it and made it into something else and it's gone on to be kind of a symbol," he said.
"It's not my picture anymore. It doesn't belong to me, it belongs to everyone, I guess. It's incredible and just goes to show the power of social media."