Hiram Garcia Livestreams a Summer of Black Lives Matter Protests
If you watched one of Hiram Gilberto Garcia's livestreams of the local Black LIves Matter protests this summer, you probably heard him say some variant of, "Folks, I'm not the story. It's not about me." To be sure, Hiram – as he's universally known – just covers the story. But after a summer of reports from the movement's front lines, he and it are pretty close.
The independent journalist took his simple setup to the first days of the protests, the May 30-31 demonstrations at Austin Police Department that saw dozens of young people gassed and shot with lead pellet rounds. In the weeks that followed, both he and the protesters kept showing up. In June, Hiram covered 24 events, many of them stretching six hours or more. His Facebook stream became an indispensable resource for anyone following the evolution of the movement.
Over the course of his reporting, Hiram chased police as they ran down a protester, capturing the moment an officer put his knee on the protester's neck. He streamed the BLM march of July 25, the night that active-duty Sgt. Daniel Perry drove his car into a group of protesters and shot Garrett Foster to death. In both cases, video from Hiram's streams was picked up by media outlets around the country, including The New York Times.
By summer's end, Hiram had thousands of followers. But his relationship with some protesters had frayed. Groups like the Mike Ramos Brigade and Star Power Blac Kollective have asked him to stop streaming their events, worried that police will study the feeds to target protesters. Hiram has resisted the requests. The conflict came to a head on Oct. 24, when demonstrators marching with the MRB allegedly sent Hiram to the hospital with a concussion. He subsequently shared a picture of himself on Facebook with a black eye, writing, "Gotta roll with the punches."