There have been protests and demonstrations nearly every day since two black men were killed by police in two different incidents. In Minnesota, Philando Castile was shot in his car as he reached for his wallet to produce ID. And, in Baton Rouge, Alton Sterling was killed for… well, there doesn’t appear to be any reason at all other than being outside a market.
On Saturday, protesters gathered in front of Baton Rouge’s City Hall to demonstrate once again. At the end of the night, over 100 people had been taken into custody. This, even though the protest had been largely peaceful. One of the people arrested in Baton Rogue was prominent Black Lives Matter activist, DeRay McKesson. Those arrested were charged with “simple obstruction of highway commerce.” Sounds like more paperwork than it’s worth.
One of the people arrested was photographed as the police were approaching her. The unnamed woman’s arrest was captured by New Orleans-based Jonathan Bachman, who has been working for Reuters in covering the protests. The photo has gone viral and is, many say, iconic. A movement defining moment captured in a picture.
In this powerful picture, a black woman stands firm as police descend upon her. She holds her arms out in the middle of the road, resolute, awaiting the inevitable zip-tie restraints. She radiates grace under pressure. When the photo was shared by journalist Shaun King, one commenter summed it up perfectly:
Look at her posture. She is balanced, powerful, upright and well grounded with both feet firmly planted on the earth. Look at the line made from the crown of her head to the heels of her feet. She is only protected by the force of her own personal power.
By contrast, the officers have the transitory, temporary, protection of their equipment that will be removed at the end of their shift. They are rocked back on their heels, knocked off balance, and appear about to fall over backward, just from the power of her.
This is a legendary picture. It will be in history and art books from this time.
That says it all. This photo truly is iconic and is destined to become the symbol of these protests in the same way this photo became emblematic of the Tianamen Square protests in China.
The young woman in the picture — a mother with a 5-year-old son — was arrested but was released on Sunday, according to Shaun King on Twitter:
She has been released. https://t.co/AxRT17jAD0
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) July 11, 2016
One person asked if the woman knows that she has “become a heroic face” of “an historic moment.” She may not know it now but she will soon.
Jonathan Bachman should be making space on his mantel or bookshelf for a Pulitzer Prize. I’m pretty sure that he will be receiving one for this amazing picture.
But, still, the protests continue. They must continue until and unless there is justice in these two shootings which are emblematic of the deep racism in many police forces. If we stand strong, like the woman in this photo, we shall overcome.
UPDATE: The woman in the photo is 28-year-old Ieshia Evans. Ms. Evans traveled from her home in New York City to be at the Baton Rouge protests. The mother of a 5-year-old son, Evans said that she was protesting for “a better future” for her son. This is the first time Evans, a nurse practitioner, has ever protested. After being held for 24 hours, she was released and is soon to be heading home. Bravo, that woman!
Featured Image via Twitter