Bokeh Focus © 2018

A Tale of Two Cities


Text by Daryl Khan / Photos by Robert Stolarik “Government must focus on the needs of families, must be the protector of neighborhoods and must guard the people from the enormous power of monied interests. Now my friends, it can be done, but not by elected leaders alone. It requires average New Yorkers who simply refuse to allow their community’s voices to be stifled. It’s their spirit that I intend to sweep into City Hall. A spirit that shouts that all boroughs were created equal and that all our residents matter! So, let’s be honest about where we are today. […]

Young, LGBTQ and Homeless


Text / Photos by Patricia Chourio   Mick was 17 when his parents kicked him out of their Minneapolis house for being gay. He spent months couch surfing and sleeping in homeless shelters. Shortly after, he began a serious relationship with an older man and moved in with him. Everything seemed to be going well for a while. He got his GED and even started to take classes at a community college. However, the relationship became so emotionally abusive that Mick developed anorexia and body image issues. He decided to move to Atlanta, where his grandmother offered help and a […]

Homeless After Class


Text / Photos by Patricia Chourio   The third week of the semester at Kennesaw State University, while many students were concerned about parking or trying to avoid long lines to get their books, Jalyn was trying to find a place to live. Nineteen and from Indiana, she was living at an extended-stay hotel until she could find a place she could afford. She and her family have been homeless since the summer of 2012. Until this summer, Jalyn shared an Indiana hotel room with her three brothers and mother. They didn’t own a car, couldn’t afford new clothes and […]

‘Shell Shocked’ Documents Violence in New Orleans


Text by Ellen Kennerly / Photos by Kara Khan   It’s easier to get a gun than a textbook in New Orleans, America’s murder capital. ‘Shell-Shocked’ — a movie filled with violence, death and schoolroom chaos — stunned the young Bronx audience in New York. A New Orleans teen pleads “I really do not, do not want to die young! I do no want to stay here because I don’t want to die.” See more work by Kara Khan HERE Read more reporting on the film “Shell Shocked” at JJIE.org HERE  

A Funeral in Ferguson


Text by James Pound / Photos by Robert Stolarik A calm returns to Ferguson as the city quietly seeks answers and mourns the loss of Michael Brown, the unarmed teen that was shot and killed by police August 9, 2014.   See more work by Robert Stolarik HERE Read more reporting on Ferguson at JJIE.org HERE  

In the Line of Chicago Fire


Text by Katy McCarthy / Photos by Daniel Shea A while back I sat down to listen to a radio special on Chicago public schools and was blown away by what I heard. In a little over an hour, I understood that some kids in Chicago kids didn’t join cliques (think gang but smaller, younger, and less organized crime) but were automatically grouped into cliques based on the block they lived on. I learned that getting a gun was as easy as getting a new pair of sneakers and that organizing something as quintessentially high school as a dance was […]

A Celebration of Peace in a Community Touched By Gun Violence


Text and Photos by Laura Bult NEW YORK — At a children’s summer party last Saturday afternoon at the Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway, Penny Wrencher made an introduction between two friends. She knew they would have something in common. “This is Nene,” Wrencher said to Taylonn Murphy, “She lost her daughter, too.” Murphy and Vernell “Nene” Britt smiled, shook hands and looked at each other in recognition. They had both lost charismatic, basketball-playing daughters in shooting feuds. In the summer of 2006, Britt was awakened by a phone call with news that her 18-year-old daughter, Latina “Peanut” Bilbro, had been involved […]

Youth Locked In: Portraits Inside Rhode Island Training School


  Text by Katy McCarthy / Photos by AS220 students from the Rhode Island Training School I suppose the primary difference between a bedroom and a cell is the side of the door the lock is on … and the geographical context. Location, location, location, right? In this case it’s the Rhode Island Training School, a juvenile detention facility in Cranston, R.I. Amid the cinderblock walls and standard-issue wooly gray bed linens, intimate details abound. These may be the cells of kids serving time as opposed to time-outs, but they are still the personal spaces of children. In one picture […]

Photos: West Harlem Gang Raid


Text by Daryl Khan / Photos by Robert Stolarik NEW YORK — Whenever LaQuint Singleton found himself about to get into a fight out in the courtyards or in the small playground in front of his building at the General Ulysses S. Grant Houses, he would run and find his mom, Venus. He’d scamper up the stairs and go up to her looking for protection. Back then, Singleton was a good student who regularly attended school and attended church service every Sunday. One day, in an attempt to impress the older teenagers and men, he carried a gun to give […]

In Photos: Police Brutality in the Bronx


Text by Daryl Khan / Photos by Robert Stolarik UPDATE: ‘Prominent Lawyer Takes Case of Bronx Boy Allegedly Pushed Through Window by Police’ NEW YORK — The 14-year-old boy sat on the stoop of Hookah Stop in the Bronx, blood pouring from his chest and filling his lungs, and thought: This is what it’s like to die. Moments before 11 o’clock Saturday night, the boy, Javier Payne, had been smashed through the store’s plate glass window by a police officer who had stopped him after an altercation with a man on the street, witnesses said. The boy was bleeding critically […]