War Protester, April 1970: Peter Simon Talks Anti-War Photo

Peter Simon Protestor

Photographer Peter Simon: When we heard about Jennifer Thomas, Elliot Blinder and I thought, This is a really amazing story. It was the spring of 1970—Rolling Stone had just started publishing a few years before. I was a senior at BU, and my friends and I started calling them up every time something happened in Boston. Jennifer had been assaulted and arrested for wearing that flag at a protest. She agreed to meet us at a coffee shop in South Boston. She was still in a lot of pain—I remember her words coming out very slowly because of her neck being broken. That flag belonged to her father, and when he was killed in Vietnam, she became an antiwar protester.

I took this picture in an abandoned yard near where we met. Rolling Stone flipped out. They ran the picture on the inside cover. I had just started my career as a photographer and I remember everyone on campus was like, “Holy shit. Peter Simon has made it.” It was the strongest antiwar picture I’ve ever taken. It was, “What’s wrong with America if a scene like this can take place?”

—As told to Loren Savini. Peter Simon’s DVD, Peter Simon’s Through the Lens: Celebrating 50 Years of Personalized Photojournalism, is available at petersimon.com.