Photographer Tom Jamieson snapped a series of photos depicting the brutal DIY weapons wielded by Ukrainian protesters. Forget speaking truth to power. These guys are taking nail-studded clubs to power’s head. Fearsome stuff. WIRED has the scoop.
The protesters who filled Maidan Square to battle the Ukrainian army and topple President Yanukovych often fought with little more than sticks, bats and sledgehammers. Their nasty homemade weapons are the subject of a series of portraits by photographer Tom Jamieson, and show how determined protesters were to either damage or defend against government security forces, depending on your politics.
While other photographers scrambled to shoot the epic scenes playing out at the front line, Jamieson wandered the occupied zone asking to see what protesters were packing.
“Every single person without fail had a club or a bat or something like that,” says Jamieson. “You couldn’t help but notice the DIY nature of the whole thing, from the barricades themselves to the totally inadequate body armor that people were wearing, and the weapons as well. It looked like something out of Mad Max, it was crazy.”
The weapons are shown in the hands of their owners against a black backdrop. Jamieson and his assistant wandered the occupied zone, lugging a black background cloth that they would set up when they found a protester carrying an interesting-looking implement. They shot outside in the square, in occupied buildings, near the protesters’ tents, usually in the early morning or twilight hours to keep lighting consistent.
Some weapons are marked with the names of their home towns or messages for their intended targets — others are decorated with religious symbols, or cartoons like one depicting Yanukovych behind bars. Each is single-minded in its design — clubs and maces for bashing, slingshots and stones for hurling, and forked pikes for ripping the shields out of the hands of police. These personalized tools of revolution were a source of pride among their owners, and the details of each tells its own story.
“Quite a few of them are taped together on the handles,” Jamieson says. “I’d ask people about that and they’d be grinning ear to ear and say, ‘I smashed a policeman over the head with this and it’s broken now.’”