Part of our weekly series with The Nib
on inequity in the time of pandemic.

Jamison Williams, Fayetteville, North Carolina
Interviewed April 23, 2020

Jamison sitting in front of his computer, which is open to the Facebook page of ReOpen North Carolina. Jamison says, “At the very beginning of the year, you hear rumors, but everything was seeming like it was in China – far, far away. And then, before you know it, they're telling you, ‘You can't go to work anymore. You can't go to church.’ ”
A church with a sign outside saying that services have been canceled due to the coronavirus. Narration: Jamison Williams has been active in ReOpen North Carolina’s anti-lockdown protests from the beginning. “I was working for a water filtration company and they shut us down. Left me and everybody I worked with without any income whatsoever.”
People, including Jamison, assembling for the start of the protest in downtown Raleigh in front of the capitol building. People are getting out of their cars carrying flags and signs saying “Freedom is essential” and “Enough is enough”. Jamison says, About the time they started taking away the right to assemble across the country is when I started getting extremely active as far as organizing people to protest. We've continued to protest every Tuesday.”
A woman has a sign saying “Live free or die.” Jamison speaks: “They've taken away our right to choose if we go out, if a business stays open, where we go to shop. They've taken all that away. A lot of us feel that we are living in a state of tyranny.”
Businesses along a main commercial street are all closed as protesters walk by in the foreground. “Economically, it is killing our small businesses. Some of these companies will never be able to come back.”
Several healthcare workers wearing scrubs, facemasks, and gloves stand silently in counter-protest to the crowd. One of them holds a sign with just the number 43,000. “There's more people that have lost their livelihoods than have gotten sick from coronavirus.”
Protesters waving American flags continue marching past the counter-protesting healthcare workers. “My personal mission would be to continue to hold these politicians accountable to make sure that this never happens again. I'm under the belief that if they've violated our rights once, they will continue to do so.”
Jamison with his back to us typing away on the ReOpen North Carolina Facebook page. “If they can take away your rights at any time, is that really a right?”

Interview by David Ritsher, illustrated by Thi Bui, script by Sarah Mirk and Amanda Pike.

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Thi Bui was born in Vietnam and came to the United States in 1978 as part of the "boat people" wave of refugees fleeing Southeast Asia at the end of the Vietnam War. Her debut graphic memoir, The Best We Could Do (Abrams ComicArts, 2017) has been selected for an American Book Award, a Common Book for UCLA and other colleges and universities, an all-city read by Seattle and San Francisco public libraries, a National Book Critics Circle finalist in autobiography, and an Eisner Award finalist in reality-based comics. It made over thirty best of 2017 book lists, including Bill Gates' top five picks. She illustrated the picture book, A Different Pond, written by the poet Bao Phi (Capstone, 2017), for which she won a Caldecott Honor. With her son, Hien, she co-illustrated the children’s book, Chicken of the Sea (McSweeney’s, 2019), written by Pulitzer winner Viet Thanh Nguyen and his son, Ellison. Her short comics can be found online at Reveal News, The Nib, PEN America, and BOOM California. She is currently researching and drawing a work of graphic nonfiction about immigrant detention and deportation, to be published by One World, Random House.

David Ritsher is the senior editor for TV and documentaries for Reveal. He has produced and edited award-winning investigative documentaries for over 15 years, on subjects ranging from loose nukes in Russia to Latino gangs in Northern California. His work has appeared on FRONTLINE, PBS NewsHour, ABC News, National Geographic, Discovery, KQED and other national broadcast outlets. Before joining CIR, David was the coordinating producer for FRONTLINE/World for over six broadcast seasons and championed much of its experimentation with video on the web.

Sarah Mirk (she/her) was a digital engagement producer for Reveal. Since 2017, she has worked as an editor at The Nib, an online daily comics publication focused on political cartoons, graphic journalism, essays and memoirs about current affairs. She works with artists to create nonfiction comics on a variety of complex topics, from personal narratives about queer identities to examinations of overlooked history. Before that, Mirk was the online editor of national feminist media outlet Bitch, a podcast host and a local news reporter. She is also the author of several books, including “Year of Zines,” a collection of 100 handmade zines, and “Guantanamo Voices,” a collection of illustrated oral histories of the world’s most infamous prison.

Amanda Pike (she/her) is the director of the TV and documentary department and executive producer of films and series at Reveal. Under her leadership, The Center for Investigative Reporting garnered its first Academy Award nomination and four national Emmys, among other accolades. She was the executive producer of the inaugural year of the Glassbreaker Films initiative, supporting women in documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism. She has spent the past two decades reporting and producing documentaries for PBS, CBS, ABC, National Geographic, A&E, Lifetime and The Learning Channel, among others. Subjects have ranged from militia members in Utah to young entrepreneurs in Egypt and genocide perpetrators in Cambodia. Pike also has dabbled in fiction filmmaking, producing the short film “On the Assassination of the President,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She is a graduate of Princeton University and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.