DENVER — "I just happened to be at the right place at the right time."
That's an understatement for Denver freelance photographer Alyson McClaran.
She attended this weekend's Operation Gridlock anti-stay-at-home order protest to snap some photos, but her pictures of an unexpected counter-protest a few blocks away have been seen worldwide.
"It was very crowded, so I decided to come into the neighborhood and walk around and I happened to come down this street," said McClaran, as she revisited 12th Avenue and Grant Street for Next with Kyle Clark on Monday. "You could just tell something was going on. The message of health care workers being the ones that are blocking [the street] is just so powerful."
By now, you've likely seen the images captured by McClaran's lens. Two people in scrubs, standing in a crosswalk, blocking traffic from protestors leaving the Capitol at 12th and Grant.
"I do not know anything about them. They did not want to be identified," said McClaran. "I did not hear them say a single word."
Her images went viral, along with conspiracy theories.
"I did have some people that were concerned that I did stage the photos. And, I as a journalist, know the code of ethics. I would never do that," said McClaran. "I even have photos along the way that show me coming to this point, to this spot."
The woman in scrubs told Westword that she is a physician assistant.
Captured in McClaren's images is a man in a Chicago Bulls jersey approaching the man in the scrubs.
"I get out of the car, I tell him, 'Dude, I got to go. I might have to take my daughter to the hospital," said Michael Kimura in an interview with Next with Kyle Clark. "After he didn't respond, I did get triggered by that and I got upset."
Kimura got back in his car and started to inch his way forward.
"I don't think he said one word, but he pointed at the road, and he pretty much signaled to go around him," said Kimura.
Video posted publicly on Facebook by Eric Hansen shows Kimura slowly try to get around the man in scrubs.
"Next thing I know, I look back over and he's ripped the sign from my girl's hands. I got out of the car again, which probably wasn't a good idea," said Kimura. "I feel like that picture painted me as, ugh, I'm not an a------."
McClaran said that police eventually had the two people in scrubs leave the crosswalk when the Grant Street light turned green, and then did not prevent them from returning to the crosswalk when Grant Street traffic had a red light.
"I don't really care if the dude's a doctor or not. If it comes out he's a doctor, I'd like to apologize to him, regardless. And even if he's not, as a human being, I'd like to apologize to him," said Kimura.
"If there was a reason that they weren't actually health care workers, which I do not think is the case, I don't think it really changes anything," said McClaran. "It's a powerful message about nurses standing strong."
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