By now, if you’re in my community of film and camera enthusiasts, you’ve probably already heard that there was a fire at Central Camera in downtown Chicago last night as a result of protests over the death of George Floyd. Owner Don Flesch was interviewed last night by a local Chicago TV station saying he wasn’t angry at what happened to his store, but what caused it in the first place.
Central Camera is about a 45 minute drive from my house and it’s a place I’ve been to a number of times. I am friends with Johnny Sisson who works there and have been toured the store a variety of times.
It’s hard to fully explain how I feel about this as of course there are far more important things in the world than a camera store. The building and all of the contents in it were insured and can be replaced, and no one was hurt, so in reality, not much was lost.
In a way, I am lucky that it takes an old camera store to catch fire for me to feel the effects of what caused this. I am white and have never experienced real racism or hatred. Although me and my family are not rich, we live in luxury compared to many less fortunate today. There are people in my country that aren’t so lucky, as things like taking a walk through the park, having an outdoor barbecue, or simply going to work may result in them being victims of brutality, racism, or hate.
I don’t have to worry about those things. My family and I are healthy and have largely been spared the horrors of COVID-19, and I don’t live in a country with extremist governments like China or North Korea where human rights are violated on an every day basis.
So while Central Camera will rebuild, and everything in it was replaced, it’s events like this that are reminders that this affects us all.