March 11th, 2013

Park Officials Block Effort to Name Lawn For Slain Photojournalist Chris Hondros

© Brooklyn Bridge Park

© Brooklyn Bridge Park

A campaign to get Brooklyn Bridge Park to name a lawn after photojournalist Chris Hondros, a Brooklyn resident who was killed in Libya in April 2011, is being blocked by Park authorities who now say they will not accept proper names submitted to its Name That Lawn contest. (*March 13, 2013: See Update to this story, below.)

In February, Brooklyn Bridge Park, a city-run park, announced on its website that it was running a Name That Lawn contest to solicit names for a stretch of green on a recently repurposed pier. Patrick Whelan, photo editor at the Wall Street Journal, suggested it be named for Hondros, a New York native and winner of the Robert Capa Gold Medal. Soon dozens of friends and colleagues of the late photographer had spread the word via social media, and news about the campaign ran run on the websites of DNAInfo and a local CBS news affiliate.

On March 9, however, several people who had submitted Hondros’s name received an email signed by Nancy Webster of Brooklyn Bridge Park, saying the Park was looking only for names that described aspects of the park.  Acknowledging the volume of emails suggesting Hondros’s name, Webster’s email added, “While we very much appreciate the desire to honor Chris’s memory, we are also keenly aware that there are so very many deserving and special Brooklyn residents to memorialize and pay tribute to. And as such, the naming of one lawn for one person does not seem fully inclusive of the
larger community.”

Webster noted that the rule change had been added to  the contest page of the Park’s website. It now reads, “We are looking specifically for a name that reflects the geography or features of the park, so no proper names please.”

Photographer Alan Chin, an early promoter of Whalen’s idea, called Webster’s email “disingenuous.” “All kinds of parks and parts of parks are named for all kinds of people. In my own neighborhood of Red Hook here, there’s the ‘Louis J. Valentino Park’ named for a local firefighter who died in a burning building in 1996. Wouldn’t the ‘Chris Hondros Meadow’ be in exactly the same spirit?” (Among city-run parks in Brooklyn alone, Chin might have added McCarren Park, Maria Hernandez Park, J.J. Byrne Playground, or the Lt. Federico Narvarez Tot Lot, which were named for a state senator, a city council member, a Building Department clerk and a New York police lieutenant who died in 1996.)

He said that the Park’s “backtracking” on the rules of its own contest “is graceless and insulting in the extreme.”

Webster’s email claims that the Park would contact the Chris Hondros Fund, the non-profit foundation created after his death to support photography education and photojournalism projects, “to explore other ways to honor his memory.”

Christina Piaia, president of the Chris Hondros Fund did not say whether the Park had been in touch, but sent PDN the following statement: “We feel humbled by the outpouring of love and support evident in the notes shared with us, and, in the spirit of Chris, this serves as a testament to the incredible life he led and legacy he leaves behind in each of us.”

Whalen says the Park’s decision is “disappointing,” but he hopes that supporters of the campaign will rally around another effort to create a place named for Hondros where friends and colleagues could meet or talk about his work. “Next month will be the second anniversary of our loss as well as Chris’ birthday. I feel the time is right and the support is there to make this happen.”

* Update, March 13, 2013: Four days after the Brooklyn Bridge Park changed  the rules of the contest; the Park has responded to criticism of its change by calling the contest off, The New York Times reports today.


Related Articles

Chris Hondros Remembered as Humanist, Friend

Chris Hondros Dies of Injuries in Libya

Andrea Bruce Wins Getty Images & Chris Hondros Fund Award

 

February 11th, 2013

Guy Martin, CJ Chivers Give Testimony in Inquest Into Tim Hetherington’s Death

The Coroner’s Court in Westminster, UK, carrying out an inquest into the death of photographer Tim Hetherington concluded that his death was “unlawful,” The Independent reports.  The photojournalist and documentary-film maker died April 20, 2011 in a mortar attack in Misrata, Libya, where he was covering fighting between forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and rebel fighters. Photojournalist Chris Hondros was also killed in the attack.

The court heard a written statement from Istanbul-based photographer Guy Martin, one of two photographers who were wounded by shrapnel in the same incident. Testimony was also provided by New York Times journalist CJ Chivers, who toured the scene of the attack later, and concluded the mortars which had struck the building in which the photographers were killed had been fired by Qaddafi loyalists. In giving her verdict of “unlawful killing,” deputy Westminster coroner Dr. Shirley Radcliffe said of Hetherington, “He was not a soldier, he was an innocent photographer.” It’s unclear if the ruling means Hetherington and the other civilians had been targeted by Qaddafi loyalists.

Martin’s written statement, in which he described the “catastrophic” violence the band of photographers had witnessed that morning, as well as his last glimpse of Hondros, makes chilling reading for anyone who knew the two slain photographers.

Martin stated, The Independant reports, that after seeing “hand-to-hand fighting” and “incoming mortar fire coming from miles away, “ the photographers returned to their base and discussed what to do next. According to Martin, Hetherington argued that they should continue to follow rebel fighters. Martin said that shortly after he was struck, he lost consciousness, and only learned of the deaths of his colleagues a week later, when he was trying to flee Libya.

In her verdict, Radcliffe also said the cause of Hetherington’s death was  “massive hemorrhage.”

After Hetherington’s death, his friend and collaborator, writer Sebastian Junger, said Hetherington could have survived his injuries if someone on the ground had administered basic lifesaving techniques. Junger has established Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC) to provide free first-aid training to journalists covering war zones.

Outside the court after yesterday’s inquest, Judith Hetherington, the photographer’s mother, broke down in tears while speaking to reporters. “”He was a wonderful humanitarian,” she said.

Related Articles
Free Conflict-Training Course Now Accepting Applications

Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

Chris Hondros Dies of Injuries in Libya

Hetherington, Hondros Loved Ones Choose Memorial Charities

Sebastian Junger’s Tim Hetherington Doc to Premiere At Sundance

September 7th, 2011

Print Sales, Web Site to Benefit Anton Hammerl’s Children

Friends of Anton Hammerl, the South African-born, London-based photographer and photo editor who was killed by pro-Qaddafi forces in Libya in April, have set up a Web site, www.friendsofanton.org,  to raise money for his three children. Tax deductible donations made to the site, which is sponsored by the non-profit Reporters Without Borders, will be used for the future education of Aurora, 11, Neo, 7, and Hiro, six months old.

Several photographers have donated prints which are being sold through the site; they include Joao Silva, Greg Marinovich, David Burnett, Teun Voeten, Frank Fournier, Andrew Testa and Teru Kuwayama, among others.

“Many people wanted to contribute to the future of Anton’s children,” says journalist Colleen Delaney, one of the volunteers behind the creation of the site. “There has been so much good will and the photo and journalism communities wanted to help.”

Photographer David Brabyn, another volunteer, says in a press release, “Everyone has worked tirelessly to get this project on the road – from the talented photographers who are donating their works, right down to web-based companies such as Emphas.is and PhotoShelter, who advised us, donated the account and waived transaction fees.” The site has also been supported by The Steven Vincent Foundation, digitaltechparis.com, Human Rights Watch and Committee to Protect Journalists.

Hammerl was working in Libya alongside photojournalist Manu Brabo and reporters Clare Morgana Gillis and James Foley on April 5 when the four went missing. While the other journalists were held in prison, Hammerl’s whereabouts remained unknown for six weeks. Upon their release in June, Gillis, Foley and Brabo informed Hammerl’s family that they had seen him shot by Libyan forces the day they were detained.

Related story:
Anton Hammerl Presumed Dead, Family Announces

April 27th, 2011

Chris Hondros Remembered as Humanist, Friend

An estimated 800 mourners attended the April 27 memorial service for photographer Chris Hondros. The service was held at the Sacred Hearts St. Stephens Church in Brooklyn, where Hondros and his fiancée had planned to hold their wedding this August.  Hondros died in Misrata, Libya on April 20, in a mortar attack that also killed photographer Tim Hetherington.

Hetherington was remembered in prayers offered during the service. Prayers were also offered for “those courageous and steadfast journalists and photographers working in the field today, shining the light of truth on the world,” as well as for “those who live and die with violence and war each day.”

The music of the service, performed by the Brooklyn Rider quartet as well as two church organists, a violinist and trumpet player, included selections by Mahler, Schubert and Bach.  Reporter Regis Le Sommier of Paris Match, who had worked with Hondros in Afghanistan and on many other news stories, noted in his eulogy that Hondros so loved classical music that he had listened to Bach’s Goldberg Variations while waiting out a hurricane in Texas.

In his homily, Father Anthony J. Sansone described Hondros as a “prophetic humanist.” Sansone, who had recently counseled Hondros and his fiancée, Christina Piaia, in preparation for their wedding, said Hondros worked to document “the suffering and the heartbroken” out of a sense of conscience and a commitment to making the public aware of perspectives beyond their own.

Writer Greg Campbell, who had known Hondros since he was 14, said he had received words of condolence from people in 24 countries, including old friends as well as people who only knew Hondros from his photos. He noted that Hondros would have encouraged his friends to maintain the connections and relationships that have formed in what Campbell called “this dark week.” Pancho Bernasconi of Getty Images, who said he liked to call Hondros “my photographer,” said the award-winning photojournalist is remembered as “that rare friend” who offered encouragement and comfort at the worst of times.

Speaking in a clear, calm voice, Piaia noted that on at a recent visit to the church, Hondros had looked out over the pews and talked about how many people they would need to invite to their wedding. Piaia told the standing-room only crowd,  “Now every seat is occupied, every row is filled, but we are celebrating something more profound:  the life of our friend Chris.” Hondros taught her “life is fragile,” she said, adding, “We didn’t take each other for granted.” She told the mourners she did not want them to feel sad, but to know “how fulfilled we have been in the last year.”

At the end of the service, pallbearers Todd Heisler, Tyler Hicks, John Moore, Jeff Swensen, Joe Raedle, Andreas Gebhard, Spencer Platt and Pierce Wright carried the coffin outside, as the church bell tolled 41 times for every year of Hondros’s life.

Related story:

Chris Hondros Dies of Injuries in Libya

Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

March 21st, 2011

Getty, AFP Photogs Missing in Libya; 4 Times Journalists Released

Two photojournalists, Joe Raedle of Getty Images and Roberto Schmidt of Agence France-Presse, and reporter Dave Clark of AFP have been missing in Libya since Saturday, AFP reported Sunday. Clark and Schmidt told editors via email they were working with Raedle in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk and were planning to meet with opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and refugees fleeing the fighting. They were last heard from Saturday.

Today The New York Times reports that four of its journalists missing since Tuesday, including photographers Lynsey Addario and Tyler Hicks, have been released by Libyan authorities.  The four Times journalists, who had entered the country without visas, were arrested while covering the fighting in the eastern Libyan city of Ajdabiya. In a memo to staff, Times editor Bill Keller said the paper waited until the four journalists were safely out of Libya before announcing the news. In today’s   statement, The New York Times says, “We are grateful that our journalists have been released, and we are working to reunite them with their families.  We have been told they are in good health and are in the process of confirming that.”

Several other journalists, however, are believed be held in Libyan custody.  On Saturday,  four journalists with the Al Jazeeera network were detained by Libyan government. A TV cameraperson for the network was killed over the weekend amidst heavy fighting near the rebel-controlled city of Benghazi.

Senior Libyan officials have warned US diplomats that foreign journalists entering the country without visas to cover the rebellion would be considered Al Qaeda collaborators, the AP reports. The US State Department has advised media organizations against sending more journalists into Libya.

Related Stories:
Libya Says It Will Release Times Journalists Today

Lynsey Addario, Tyler Hicks Missing in Libya

March 18th, 2011

Libya Says It Will Release Times Journalists Today

Four New York Times journalists held since Tuesday by pro-Qaddafi forces in Libya will be released today, Libyan government officials have told the US State Department. The Libyan government says that the four journalists, who include photographers Lynsey Addario and Tyler Hicks, were arrested in Ajdabiya when the Libyan army swept into the rebel-controlled city.

The Times reported on Wednesday that Addario, Hicks, the Times Beirut bureau chief, Anthony Shadid, and reporter and videographer Stephen Farrell were missing, having last made contact with editors on Tuesday. The Times reports today that the four entered the rebel-controlled eastern region without visas via the Egypt-Libya border.

In an interview with CNN, Seif Islam el-Qaddafi, son of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, said via a translator, “They entered the country illegally and when the army, when they liberated the city of Ajdabiya from the terrorists and they found her, they arrest her because you know, foreigners in this place.” He added, “But then they were happy because they found out she is American, not European. And thanks to that, she will be free tomorrow.”  Qaddafi was probably referring to photographer Addario, but according to the Times, Libyan officials informed the State Department on Thursday evening that all four would be released on Friday.

(Seif Islam el-Qaddafi has previously met Addario. In 2004, Addario photographed him and his father on assignment for Time magazine.)

When the Times reported the journalists were missing, Times editor Bill Keller said in a statement, “We have talked with officials of the Libyan government in Tripoli, and they tell us they are attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of our journalists.”

Related Story:
Lynsey Addario, Tyler Hicks Missing in Libya