As the police in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, arrested Black Lives Matter activists protesting outside the police headquarters on Saturday following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, a single act of peaceful resistance by an unarmed woman became one of the most powerful moments of the entire movement.
Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman captured an unnamed African-American woman standing her ground against the riot police in a rebellious act of peaceful civil disobedience. As the cops yelled at her to move, she silently refused to budge.
Fully armed and armored police appear to charge toward the woman, standing calmly and silently in a simple flowing dress, her feet planted firmly on the ground and her expression betraying no fear.
“It happened quickly, but I could tell that she wasn’t going to move, and it seemed like she was making her stand,” the photographer told The Atlantic. “To me it seemed like: You’re going to have to come and get me. And I just thought it seemed like this was a good place to get in position and make an image, just because she was there in her dress and you have two police officers in full riot gear.”
The woman was arrested, along with at least three journalists and prominent Black Lives Matter activist, DeRay McKesson.
“It wasn’t very violent. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t resist, and the police didn’t drag her off,” Bachman added. “It’s representative of the peaceful demonstrations that have been going on down here. I understand that officers have been hurt in other cities, but down here it’s remained peaceful.”
The picture, capturing the true spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement, went viral on the internet. Many online users also compared it to the iconic Tank Man photo from the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
Brave lady in Baton Rouge.— Cornelia (@PaladinCornelia) July 10, 2016
Brave man in Tiananmen Square. pic.twitter.com/Zy4CaMwUF9
Baton Rouge PD: "How many space marines should we deploy to deal with the young woman in a dress? Ten? Fifteen?" pic.twitter.com/80vKOuCkuG— Gray Gunter (@graygunter) July 10, 2016
Baton Rouge PD looks ridiculous. I never wore so much armor in combat. This is their own community. (Photo: Reuters) pic.twitter.com/clCFFyD6jx— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) July 10, 2016
What a powerful photo pic.twitter.com/PzGfk45KPy— Nader (@BonsaiSky) July 10, 2016
The police released the woman late Sunday evening, according to New York Daily News reporter Shaun King.