Ray Cary, Press & the Bet

Albuquerque Journal Photographer Ray Cary covers Jane Muskie, wife of 1968 Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Maine Senator Edmund S. Muskie.
Cary, right, with Albuquerque Journal Political Reporter Ed Marh selecting legislators to photograph, after the Governor's State of the State address January 20, 1970.
It was the late fall, or early winter of 1972, I sat on the floor in the room across from the bar, drinking a Ginger ale. It was a room about 20 feet by maybe 35 feet. On the door a sign said Albuquerque Press Club.

It was Friday night and the regulars were all there. Also sitting on the floor was the Journal's Photographer Ray Cary. He was a competent photographer but he just shot a lot of film. He knew where to stand when he photographed but, his timing was often off, just slightly.

Photo of bicycle racer Stuart Bailey celebrating his victory of a fifty-mile race with the final leg up the 10,678-foot Sandia Crest on August 8, 1966 as it appeared in the Monday morning Albuquerque Journal
We were competitors; he and I had been such for over six years. The weekend I had arrived in Albuquerque, at age 16, I had taken a photograph of a bicycle racer who had won a fifty-mile race up the 10,678-foot Sandia Crest east of the city. I sold the picture to the Journal that ran it on the Sports page in the Monday edition.

Ray thought me a "kid" that day, but had grown to find me a real "pain in the ass." Two years in a row, 1969 and 1970, I had won the APE award for best photograph in Albuquerque Press Club's Annual Gridiron award.

In 1971, the rules for the photo entries were changed by the Press Club expanding from a single category, "Best Photograph" to three categories; Best News, Feature, and Sports Photograph. I had entered pictures that year, but could not compete with the images entered by the competition that included a news picture of a circus' tight rope act falling from a high wire.

In 1972, I had been fired from the Albuquerque News, specifically for publishing several photos that had upset the publisher, E.J. Lewis. I took three of these photos and entered them in the Albuquerque Press Club APE Awards Competition. I did not have a good hard News shot, however, won in the Best Feature, and Sports Photograph categories.

Cary didn't like the "kid" showing him up, but I did on a regular basis. For I had to. I worked for a weekly paper, the Albuquerque News. I had a Monday deadline and it was on the street Thursdays. Ray and I would often stand side by side at the same event during the weekend and shoot the same action. His picture would appear in Saturday or Sunday editions and mine on Thursday. The difference was that if mine were to have any relevance, my photos had to be more telling and both of us knew it.

Cary was in a position to influence the Journal's editor to hire me, but he wouldn't. He always thought that I handled people coldly. The politics of the local press was pretty strong and he had some clout just by being a "daily" photographer with the largest newspaper in the state. Ray went on to be a golden boy for the Journal's young publisher Tommy Lang. He went on to hold the title of director of Special Projects.

The Press Club was full of the late shift; the morning newspaper reporters and the editors who did not have to wait for the late breaking stories to come in. The reporters who had hurried their stories to their editors and had gotten the nod were now pulling on their favorite drink and telling each other how they had gotten someone to say exactly what they wanted, to meet their own perception of the story they had written. Television news cameramen and reporters stood off in their own corner telling their own brand of war stories. Then there were the hardcores. They were the hard drinking, cigar-chewing old-timers; they were the "makers" of politicians and knew everybody. They knew all the dirty little secrets of all the important people in the state, but they weren't telling.
I was clear headed, as usual. I delighted in engaging in banter with the reporters and photographers. There were a few that I always enjoyed sparring with, Cary and Ed Pennybacker in particular. Pennybacker, was a crusty old radio news reporter who worked for the leading rock and roll station in town. He was best known for the powerful Oldsmobile 442 nicknamed "Big Red" that he drove. It was equipped with multiple whip antennas to monitor police radios. Pennybacker had called me "an angry young man"; I thought it a compliment. Then there were the others with whom I just had good conversation. There was Al Cabral, a photographer for the Albuquerque Tribune, the afternoon daily. Al was always easy going and couldn't be drawn into a heated discussion if his life depended upon it. I never remember seeing him get worked up about anything, until years later when he helped start a support group of men who were trying to broaden parental rights for divorced men. Ed Marh was an editor at the Journal; he had married one of the top reporters, Jolleen Draper. Eric McCrossen was an Albuquerque Journal Editorial writer and was always friendly.
My older brother, Guy, was a college student at the University of New Mexico. He worked on weekends as a photoengraver at the Albuquerque Journal. On occasion, when some breaking story would be detected over a police scanner or was called in by some citizen and no staff photographer was in the office or darkroom, he would be sent out to get some pictures. Such an occurrence happened on Sunday afternoon of June 13, 1971, when a riot broke out in Roosevelt Park.

I arrived late at the riot, unaware that the rioters had run police officers out of the park. I failed to accurately assess the situation and ran into the park where two police cars had been overturned and rioters were trying to burn them. I photographed one rioter, John Richard Maloof as he stuffed newspapers into a police car and yelled for some one to give him some matches. When he saw me taking his picture he told me to stop, but I took a portrait of his hate and anger with a telephoto lens. He abandoned his arson and began chasing me into the park. Between 50 and 100 people joined him in pursuing me. My path was cut off and I had to stand my ground. I swung my camera bag and the first pursuer went down, but I was blind sided by the next person. That person knocked me down but disappeared because, as I later found out, Guy had tried to come to my rescue and had pulled this man off of me. In the instant pause I was able to get the straps of my three cameras off of my neck before they were pulled away from me. Both Guy and I took severe beatings and were kicked by the crowd.

I did not get any pictures that day and was attacked a second time losing a fourth camera. Guy had several photographs in the June 14, 1971, Monday, Albuquerque Journal, illustrating the front page article, by Gary Stone, headlined "Newsmen Pinned Down in Fighting at Park" continued onto page A-5, headlined "Roosevelt Park Rioting Newsmen Pinned Down."
Guy had previously chastised me for arguing with the drunks at the Press Club, especially with Frank Maestes, one of the Journal's sports writers. Guy said it wasn't fair , while I had stayed sober. I always thought staying sober was an equalizer because I was so much younger than these people were and in my eyes, their experience gave them an advantage. Frank had always been friendly professionally, however his opinions flowed freely when he got relaxed.
I had started photographing in junior high school and had convinced a sympathetic editor or two along the way that it was not the age of the photographer that counted but the photograph. They would pay between $7 and $15 for a print and run it. In high school, while taking a journalism class, a reporter from the Albuquerque News, J.D. Kailer, had come to the class looking for some stringers to compete with a youth page that the Albuquerque Journal had put together. Kailer needed writers, but was also willing to take on a photographer to illustrate the writers' work. After a few months working for the youth page I had succeeded in having my pictures run on the front page. I left the youth page behind and became a stringer of regular news.
Fred McCaffery, the editor, was a hard but friendly man, who liked what I saw and would use as much of what I photographed as I could give him. He liked to make biting social comments to go along with my pictures. We made quite a team. Then there was the publisher, Ed Lewis. He had started his publishing business printing business cards in his garage. Now he had a thriving business, Newspaper Printing Corporation, publishing almost all the small newspapers in the Albuquerque area and quite a few others from beyond.
In the summer of 1969, I had approached Reies Lopez Tijerina, a militant Spanish American land grant leader, with a proposal to photograph his upcoming activities to raise awareness of his issues with the intent of having the pictures distributed as widely as possible. Several major newspapers and magazines had expressed an interest in the project including the Denver Post and Life magazine.

I had photographed Tijerina during an armed confrontation with U.S. Forest Service Rangers and State Policemen, after Tijerina's wife, Patsy, had burned a couple of Forest Service signs in northern New Mexico. I sold my photographs several places; Associated Press, the Albuquerque News, EL GRITO Del Norte and Newsweek. the pictures were published in several other newspapers and also used as evidence presented to two separate juries that convicted the Tijerinas.

Patsy Ann Tijerina Hurls Bottled Gasoline at Burning Sign
June 9,1969

Tijerina had claimed that I could not testify against him because he had a privileged relationship with me using the broad theory that Cary espoused. I have never disagreed with the theory, it was that I saw it a little differently than did Cary or Tijerina. The theory most journalists believe in is meant to protect people who come forward, "off the record," with information which someone else is trying to keep secret. The exposure of the source of the concealed information risks retaliation, firing, harassment or physical violence for revealing the details. Not protecting a confidential source, I agree, is a breach of both personal and professional ethics. I had photographed Tijerina, along with his family and followers, in their public activities openly with their knowledge.

Tijerina's eldest son, Reyes Hugh Jr., was also charged with his father. He tried to gain control of my negatives by asking me to give them to him. Reyes Hugh Jr. was not invoking the theory, he just saw the existence of the photographs that showed what happened as threatening to any fabricated defense. No one had ever asked me to keep anything secret until the time of the court hearing when Reies Tijerina raised the issue of trying to keep the recordings of the things he did in public from being introduced at trial. Tijerina's actions had also been seen by many other people and they placed him at risk of going to prison. It was the existence of my photographs that most threatened his freedom.
It was just prior to the first court proceedings, a bond hearing, that he tried to invoke the theory. There never was any kind of privilege established or even discussed. None had been asked for, nor could an off the record status been granted photographically. It can not be done, because knowingly allowing a photograph is inconsistent with protecting people "off the record."
Cary had argued with me that I should have resisted a subpoena from the United States Attorney and defendants in the case. He expressed the journalistic academic theory that responding to the legal request would make it more difficult for the media to gain the trust of people to speak to the press without the fear of what they said being turned over to the government.
My personal thought on being a journalist was from the perspective of a freelancer. Photographers who are employed by a major media outlet have a level of security and financial protection. They also have to accept the rules set out by their employers that dictate the standards that the media outlet has adopted. These rules are sometimes considered as ethical standards to be strictly followed. Where these ethical lines are drawn is subject to debate for those who are not forced into adopting such academic "standards" of individual and collective media.

My view of being a journalist is that I try to tell or show people, who were not at the events that I was at, what happened, as I saw them. In the formal governmental world, I consider juries as part of the people. If a federal prosecutor or a defense counsel wanted the pictures to use as evidence. I viewed these requests as just another opportunity to tell the story of what had happened. Both prosecutors and defense counsels subpoenaed my photographs. I testified in response to subpoenas independently sent from both sides.

Cary and I got into an ongoing and extended discussion about police. He contended that the police engaged in brutality on a system wide level. He thought that the police leadership not only condoned brutality, but encouraged and tolerated it.
I took the opposing view.
Cary said that he bet that it was true and I responded that, even though not a betting man, I would wager one dollar that he was wrong.
My photographing police officers over several years had led me to believe that there were occasional incidents of brutality by individual officers. I had heard officers talk about their fellow officers who had been involved in using force. Comments included those to the effect that officers "thundered" criminal suspects and that there was "street justice" indicating that force had been used. Officers do not speak in terms of brutality because the word does not have the same meaning to police as it does to the citizenry.
Cary questioned how I would go about proving the point? Having always taken an active approach to such questions, I said I would probably have to become an officer to observe the inner workings of a law enforcement agency to determine if brutality was systemic. I was, at the moment, not working full time for a newspaper and was freelancing. I was willing to change occupations and my original thought was that I would go into law enforcement for a year, make my observations, then re-approach my photographic and journalistic career.
It would take the next 28 years for me to draw an accurate conclusion. I joined the Prince Georges' County (Maryland) Sheriff's Department in July 1973 and served for three years. I joined the Albuquerque Police Department in June of 1976 and served until December of 1999.
I was involved in, observed and heard incidents of force that were alleged to be acts of police brutality. There were some that I thought constituted actual acts of police brutality. Every time that I thought that the system was protecting an officer from one of these real acts of brutality, some official act acknowledging that an inappropriate use of force had been discovered, investigated and dealt with would surface. Several times such acts were minimized to protect either an individual or group of officers, but ultimately at least some action was taken. On other occasions more severe action was taken involving suspension, firing and even criminal charges being filed.
I had heard that Caryß was ill, but no one was able to tell me any of the details of his illness.
In 1995 Cary was found dead in his home.

Ultimately I determined that acts of police brutality could be systemic, though I only documented one case. That is another story (found elsewhere on this site). I reluctantly would owe Ray a dollar, if he were still alive.

Albuquerque Journal Photographer Ray Cary with Stevie Rhodes, a fellow Albuquerque Press Club member and graphic artist for the University of New Mexico, at the Grand Opening of the Downs of Santa Fe, June 10, 1971. Cary is waving to a friend of theirs in the grandstand between races.