This entry also appeared on my work blog, on the Tribune website.
We were back in Kingman, Ariz., this week to cover the sentencing of FLDS polygamist Kelly Fischer, who was convicted of having sex with a minor (one of his plural wives, who he allegedly married when she was sixteen). Photo-wise it’s mostly the same thing as before— Fischer being swarmed by cameras as he walks from his car to the courthouse. Then, after, back to his car.
Though you can only do so much photographing someone walking to their car (try it sometime), I really like this frame. It’s one of those shots where everything comes together. It looks like one of those fake celebrity portraits where the photographer tries to recreate a paparazzi scene. You know, with actors portraying frenzied journalists and the celebrity behind his sunglasses, softly lit, looking calm and cool amidst the chaos.
We ran out of space in the printed edition of today’s paper, so the magic of the photo had to be cropped out. Here you can see it in full.
Other scenes from the trip:
Waiting outside before everything started, it’s two TV cameras and a still photographer from the Las Vegas newspaper, and me. We’re sitting around in the sweaty summer heat of Kingman waiting for Kelly to show up.
I was talking to a TV reporter who has covered polygamy for years for a Phoenix station. A citizen walking out of the courthouse walks up and interupts us. He approaches the reporter, “I just want to shake your hand,” he says. “I’m a big fan. I was just down here, hoping my nephew was going to get out of jail.”
Once they figure out why we’re here, the man and his girlfriend/wife decide to stick around. “We’ve got to see what happens to this scumbag,” he says.
Among the local citizens I’ve met in Kingman there is a real sense of animosity toward the polygamists. Several more people notice our cameras and decide to hang around to watch what happens.
Next a reporter standing behind the courthouse comes running to the front. The reporter jumps up with his microphone. “Here he comes, boys!”
Everyone runs toward the street along the back of the courthouse. It’s a mad dash, like they’re escaping a tidal wave. Spectators, gawkers, cameramen, reporters. “It’s the polygamist!” someone yells.
Fischer gets out of his car and walks in as we all run around taking photographs. The TV reporters are asking questions, but he doesn’t answer. The show is over in about 15 seconds when Fischer walks into the courhouse. Cameras aren’t allowed inside.
Two hours later Fischer is sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years supervised probation. Flora Jessop, an anti-polygamy activist quickly leaves the courthouse, visibly angry. “Another child raped by the courts!” she says, walking away from the cameras to compose herself before returning to make further comments.
We’re all outside now waiting for the attorneys to come out and comment. There are still several people just here to watch, gawkers. One lady is wearing a pink tank top that says “It’s not easy being cute.” An old man walks out of the courthouse hooked up to a portable oxygen tank that he’s carrying. He was one of Fischer’s character witnesses, who talked about Fischer’s integrity and honesty in his business dealings.
He walks by the lady in the pink tank top and she freaks out. “Don’t you wink at me!” she yells. “Oh my god!”
“He’s one of them!” another gawker yells.
“My skin is crawling!”
After a bit Fischer walks out of the courthouse with his brother. The cameras swarm around him yet again, the TV reporters asking questions. Everyone is scrambling in crazy fine form. At one point, Fischer accidentally bumps into a cameraman with his shoulder. He stops and apologizes, asking, “Are you OK?” before continuing.
As the TV reporters shout their questions, Fischer answers with talk about the weather, like, “Did it rain?” and “Is it going to rain?”
As the Fischer brothers get in their car and the safety behind its tinted windows, a TV reporter yells out his last unanswered question, “Are you guys finally going to stop marrying underage girls?!”
“Okay,” he says to the car. “Bye boys.”
As the car drives off, a private investigator fires off several frames of the car from behind, probably zooming in on the license plate.