Four Years Embedded with the N.Y.P.D.

In the late seventies, Jill Freedman set out to create a clear-eyed portrait of New York City police. What she made was something more complicated.

Inevitably, the spirit of Weegee haunts Jill Freedman’s photographs of New York street cops. Both worked in inky, matter-of-fact black and white. Both wanted to be at the scene of the crime while the blood was still wet. Both were unsentimental, tenacious, and tough. They didn’t look away, and they won’t let us ignore what they saw: New York at its rawest and scuzziest (the precinct walls are as ruined as tenement hallways). But Freedman, a rare woman in the field of photojournalism at the time (she died in 2019, at the age of seventy-nine), wasn’t interested in Weegee’s brand of hit-and-run tabloid photojournalism. Her pictures were made over a period of four years, from 1978 to 1981, during which she was virtually embedded with the police in two Manhattan precincts, Midtown South and the Ninth, headquartered at East Fifth Street, where the cops of “NYPD Blue” would be stationed more than a decade later. New York hit the skids financially in those years, and the city’s safety net, already badly frayed, gave out.

How one photographer shared America’s untold stories

Just before Jill Freedman died last October, she concocted a plan to have her home health aid meet her at her apartment at 10 in the morning. “I’m getting out of here,” Freedman said over the phone, before wheeling herself towards the exit of the rehabili

Driven by empathy for victims of injustice, Jill Freedman used her camera to give a voice to the voiceless.

Finding Inspiration in the Struggle at Resurrection City – The New York Times

Devastated by the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jill Freedman quit her copywriting job at a New York advertising agency and headed to Washington, D.C., to protest poverty and live among shacks and tents on the National Mall. Little more than an amateur photographer at the time, her commitment to racial and economic justice made her the only photographer who stayed and documented the entire six-week encampment known as Resurrection City.

Jill Freedman: For Life – The Eye of Photography

These here are some real New York ladies.” Nobody had ever come to my defense like this. It was a snowy January afternoon. The weather was cold but the mood was cheerful. Jill and I had just left her apartment in Harlem, near West 100th street, Morningside Park and the majestic cathedral that overlooks it. We were headed to the other side of Central Park, towards 70th street. In New York, you can only tickets for the bus with small change, which you usually only need for laundromats. Standing across from the stony-faced driver, I was digging in my pockets for a few more coins. “Just take a seat,” Jill said. “The drivers won’t care, he’s used to it.

Cops, Clowns and Cameras

The photographer Jill Freedman — at 74, “still like a rebellious adolescent” — may not be a household name, but her photography, and her life story, could fill volumes.

Jill Freedman was always attracted to closed societies, groups that didn’t much want her as a member. But her persistence always paid off.