TucsonSentinel.com's best photos of 2021
COVID-19 was the central story for TucsonSentinel.com throughout 2021, and many of our photos hinged on this subject, whether it was for early days of vaccinations or Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's fight with Pima County over shot supplies and a federal vaccination site. But, we also made sure to cover the border, and the shifts from the Trump era to the Biden administration.
In January, COVID-19 vaccinations were here in Tucson, and Tucson Medical Center hosted a shot clinic for people older than 75 and for first esponders, including a Pima County sheriff's deputy, who rolled up his sleeve to get his first shot against the disease. We used this photo several times, including a recent story on the number of PCSD employees who will lose their jobs after the Board of Supervisors passed a vaccination mandate for staff who work with "vulnerable populations."
Using climbing ropes and their mettle, the "vertical dance" troupe Bandaloop performed by swinging across the glass front of the Meinel Optical Sciences Building in front of dozens of observers on the University of Arizona campus in March.
That same month, Gov. Ducey came to the UA campus, and spoke about the COVID-19 vaccination site, but he also attempted to use that visit to hit the Biden administration on the border, and wave away questions about why the state had refused to allow FEMA to set up an additional vaccination site in Pima County.
A day after our reporting, the governor's office relented, allowing the FEMA site to go forward, adding thousands of shots in arms to Pima County later in the year.
Over the summer, as it became clear that a federal moratorium on evictions would end, and help for renters was coming to a close, TucsonSentinel.com spent a day with Pima County Constable Kirsten Randall, as she worked through serving eviction notices. Over the year, more resources came available from the county to blunt a wave of people losing their housing, but the process remains complex and uncertain.
For more than a year, the Sonoran Desert had been under exceptionally dry conditions, so there it was a joyous occasion to see millions of gallons flood the normally dry Rillito River on July 25. After steady rains in the mountains, water flowed into the dry river bed, and dozens of Tucsonans came out to take a look.
In October, the Sentinel covered how the lone road to the Bravo Leon Cemetery, the burial place of Mexican pioneers who homesteaded the Vail area in the late 19th century along with generations of their descendants, will be updated by Pima County. A second road, with easier access, was effectively cut off by a new housing development, making it harder for people to visit their loved one's burial plots.
Also, in October, hundreds of asylum seekers gathered in Nogales, Sonora, to ask the Biden administration to restart the asylum process. While President Joe Biden had promised a return to pre-Trump era rules on asylum, the administration instead kept in place Title 42—a CDC public health rule that has allowed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to rapidly deport people back to Mexico.
One family, shown here, attempted to cross and presented CBP with papers showing that they were vaccinated, and that they needed protection in the U.S. because Mexico remains dangerous. CBP officials refused, and shuttered the border crossing for hours in response.
In November, we made sure to keep up our annual coverage of Tucson's All Souls Procession. This was the 32nd All Souls Procession, and this year's event marked the return of the live, in-person event, which went virtual the previous year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Later that month, Pima County reopened the updated Pima County Courthouse. Long the pet project of Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, the event was marked by his absence after he was seriously injured when he was hit by a car while riding his bike downtown.