As my good friend and Post colleague Matt Starkey once said, "Protests are the sports of news."

Since the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, there have been a lot of protests. Pre-President Trump, the only protests I had ever covered were small ones here in Athens. So naturally, I was completely unprepared to start covering actual protests and riots in the real world. 

Granted, there are some interesting things that happen in Athens. They just tend to be quieter, more reserved and have less police involvement. 

Ali Rafiei, left, and Ali Khaledi, right, chain themselves together outside Baker Center on Monday in protest of President Trump's recent executive order on immigration.

I learned very quickly that you need to be prepared for the police and protesters to do anything. I also learned that you are not necessarily protected because you are a member of the press. 

While covering the post-inauguration protests, I was pepper sprayed and pushed to the ground by riot police — I was treated essentially as a protester. 

Riot police pepper spray protesters on K St. and 14th St. in Washington D.C. after the protesters had been building a large fire in response to President Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017.

While covering the protests in Columbus last weekend, I found it really interesting how different the police acted in comparison to the inauguration. They waited 40 minutes before bringing out the pepper spray, while warning the crowd it would be used if they didn't move. 

A police officer in a gas mask waits for the order to use the pepper spray during a "Resist Trump Rally" in Columbus, Ohio in response to President Trump and his recent executive order on immigration on January 30, 2017.

Unrelated to police – something I struggle with is getting the names of people. You're running around trying to document everything, while trying to not get in the way of the police. 

Some protesters show up with their faces covered and seem to just be there to cause a scene. But on the opposite side of that, some people really want you to photograph them and are there to perform. 

People sit in on the floor inside John Glenn Columbus International Airport in protest of President Trump's recent executive order on immigration on January 29, 2017. 

Through all the chaos and riot police, I live and breathe protests. There's something about that mob mentality that gets me all riled up to report the news. 

But, the protester shots are not what I get excited about. It's my growing collection of people going about their daily lives and accidentally come upon protests. The spectators. 

A man watched protesters during the "Emergency Protest against Trump's ban on Muslims" at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport on Sunday, January 29, 2017. 

It's also the spontaneity of leaving Athens at the drop of a hat to go cover a protest that I found out about two hours prior. I create pictures at the protests that I wouldn't be able to make anywhere else.

A medic helps clean the eyes of a man who was pepper sprayed  during a "Resist Trump Rally" in Columbus, Ohio in response to President Trump and his recent executive order on immigration on January 30, 2017.


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