The viewer can see fear, and weapons, and a big house (and the woman's finger on the trigger). The photograph was a little window, in one direction.
Is that enough information to know what's going on?
I know a few people for whom the mere presence of weapons meant the figures in the picture were bad people.
I wonder how much of the current animus towards policemen is the knee-jerk "only bad people have weapons."
The unseen people were described as demonstrators or protestors. I saw no photos of the group. You get to fill in whatever you want. If they're protesting in a good cause, they must be good people and you can fill in peaceful images of chanting or kneeling marchers. If you are more concerned with the riots that sometime accompany the demonstrations, you can fill in the rock-throwers and molotov-cocktail throwers. We had some of both kinds of marchers in Madison.
Once you've filled in your background, you re-interpret everybody in the scene. If you have populated the invisible side with peaceful black marchers for justice, the pair you see must be motivated by more than just fear--there must be some bigotry too.
If you've filled in your background with a wild-eyed mob, the pair must feel they're in mortal danger.
If you insert yourself into your imagined scene, you get to feel morally superior or smarter than the pair.
Inserting yourself into the real scene takes a little more work, and maybe more humility.
I wasn't there, I hadn't seen pictures of the marchers, and by now you can guess how reliable I find reporters. But I gather there were about 100+ people, who'd torn down an iron gate, and were marching past the couple to the mayor's home to threaten her. The couple yelled at the crowd to get out, and came back outside with guns.
Hmm. That's not a peaceful march. Maybe some members were, but their intention wasn't. On the other hand, there was not (yet) a direct threat to the couple.
(The mayor may have crossed a line, but that's outside the scope of this scene.)
What would a "reasonable man" have done? I have some ideas of what I would have done in their shoes, but there's been some dispute over whether I'm a reasonable man, since I differ politically from my betters. But of course I wasn't there.