Baton Rouge: Photo of woman arrested by police sums up US conflict
July 11, 2016
SOMETIMES it takes just one image to perfectly capture the spirit and power of a movement.
The photo of a woman peacefully protesting in Louisiana has become one such photo.
The image of Baton Rouge Police officers dressed in riot gear confronting the woman, who is wearing a summer dress and standing firmly but calmly on the road, has become a powerful symbol of the conflict that is tearing America apart.
Photographer Jonathan Bachman who took the photo while working for Reuters, told Buzzfeed that protesters were blocking traffic on a highway when officers dressed in full riot gear showed up and told them to move to the footpath.
The woman in the photo was one protester who refused to budge.
“She just stood there and made her stand. I was just happy to be able to capture something like that,” Bachman said.
The image of her resolute defiance in the face of the heavily armed officers has already been described as “legendary” and “powerful”.
A demonstrator protests the shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 9, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters
A demonstrator protests the shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 9, 2016. Picture: Jonathan Bachman/ReutersSource:Picture Media
“Look at her posture,” one person wrote on a Facebook post by New York Daily News reporter Shaun King. “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,” Jami West continued.
“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.”
Others on Twitter compared the image to the other famous protest picture captured in Tinanamen Square, while others noted how ridiculous the heavy-handed response looked.
The extreme-looking response to the lone woman captures perfectly the criticism that many are making about police brutality.
Tensions between black citizens and police rose over the past week or so amid police shootings of African-American men in Minnesota and Louisiana, and the gunning down of five white police officers by a black suspect in Dallas in apparent retaliation.
During the protest outside Baton Rouge police headquarters on Saturday, nearly 1000 people protested, leading to the arrest of almost 100 people.
Most of those arrested were from Louisiana and faced a single charge of obstructing a highway.
Police began releasing those who were arrested on Sunday afternoon including the woman who features in the photo, and prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckeesson.
“We are on the verge of a national uprising. It’s already underway, but is growing by the hour.
All we have ever asked for is justice,” King wrote on his Facebook page.
“I think by this time next week, this entire nation is going to be gripped with protests over police brutality.”