A woman stands tall, shoulders strong, her arms poised at her sides, dressed in a floor length dress as heavily armed police officers charge at her on the street.
That’s the striking image taken in the streets of Baton Rouge, Louisana, which has gone viral in an incredible display of defiance and protest after another of America’s most harrowing weeks of gun violence.
The woman, since revealed as 28-year-old Ieshia Evans, was one of more than 100 protesters arrested on Saturday during demonstrations over race-fuelled violence by police.
The photo was taken by photographer Jonathan Bachman for Reuters, but has been shared widely, including by prominent journalist Shaun King who described it as “powerful”.
“Look at her posture. She is balanced, powerful, upright and well grounded with both feet firmly planted on the earth,” Jamie West commented on the post.
“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.”
Evans is a nurse’s assistant from New York with a young son, according to the Daily Mail, and travelled to Baton Rouge because she was “overwhelmed with emotion” following the death of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man who was shot several times after being tackled to the ground by two white police officers last week.
His death, along with a second shooting last week of Philandro Castile, who was pulled over for having a broken tail light, have prompted widespread protests across the US.
A friend of Evans, Natasha Haynes, said she had made the decision to travel to Baton Rouge following Alton Sterling’s shooting because she “wanted a better future for her five-year-old son”.
“She’s everything to me and I’m just happy she’s safe, not hurt and – most importantly – happy that she got up and did something about injustices here in the states,” Haynes told the Daily Mail.
Alton Sterling’s family gave an emotional address to the media last week (post continues after video):
Two journalists and prominent activist and Black Lives Matter member DeRay McKesson were also arrested in the protest.
McKesson was walking along the side of a highway when he was ordered to get on his knees, handcuffed and spent more than 16 hours in prison before being released, according to the New York Times.
“The only people who were violent last night were the Baton Rouge Police department,” he told reporters after his release.
“The protesters remained peaceful, both here and across the country.”
By comparison the police have been widely criticised for their excessively militarised approach to peaceful demonstrations.
“In the wake of this intensely emotional week, it is understandable that people across the country have been moved to take to the streets to peacefully exercise their right to be heard. Police have a duty to facilitate the right to peaceful protest while still protecting their own safety and that of the public,” Jamira Burley, Amnesty International USA’s campaign manager for gun violence and criminal justice reform, said in a statement.
“The sheer number of arrests last night raises serious questions about proportionate response to peaceful protests. Law enforcement officers cannot selectively decide which laws to enforce during demonstrations – be it against journalists, legal observers or protesters.”
Evans was held by police for 24 hours but has since been released.
The photo was taken by photographer Jonathan Bachman for Reuters.