On May 1st, Jeff Hall, the leader of the California chapter of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group, was shot and killed in the living room of his own home by his 10-year-old son. As part of their coverage of Hall’s murder, the New York Times ran a series of intensely compelling photographs taken by 29-year-old photojournalist Julie Platner.
The pictures depict NSM members doing things one would expect, like giving the Nazi salute at rallies and holding up flags featuring swastikas, but they also draw back the curtain on the group’s domestic side. There are barbecues and babies, children playing at the feet of their militant parents, and, in some of the video Ms. Platner took which was later used by 60 Minutes in their coverage of Hall’s death, a quiz game.
In the interview that accompanied Ms. Platner’s photographs in the Times she was described as having given herself the assignment of covering the NSM. I was fascinated by the idea that someone so early in her career would have the impulse and tenacity required to see such an intimidating project through to completion, let alone come up with the idea. While doing research in preparation for our interview I learned that this was not the first time Ms. Platner has put herself in a dangerous position to get a story. She traveled to Haiti for the Wall Street Journal in early 2010 to cover the earthquake that devastated the island nation.Read More