Calm at the center of the storm. The woman peacefully facing off against policemen at a Saturday, July 9, Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — as seen in a now-viral, instantly iconic photo — has been identified as 28-year-old Ieshia Evans.
Although it was a peaceful demonstration — held in the wake of the death of Alton Sterling, who was shot and killed by police on July 5 — many protesters, including Evans, were detained by policemen. She was photographed (by Reuters’ Jonathan Bachman) calmly standing in front of two officers clad in riot gear who appeared to be charging at her.
New York Daily News’ senior justice reporter, Shaun King, shared the pic on Facebook (which was liked more than 3,300 times) and asked readers to help him figure out who the woman in the “powerful photo” is. Several proud family members and friends were quick to let King know that it was Evans.
“To see all of the comments under this post shows me that my cousin did not make a mistake by going out there and standing up for her rights and what she believes in,” Nikka Thomas wrote. “I’m proud to call you my family Ieshia.”
Her self-identified longtime friend R. Alex Haynes also chimed in. “This is my best friend that I have known since we were 8 (20 years now),” Evans’ pal shared. “Her name is Ieshia and she has a 5 year old son. She went to Baton Rouge because she wanted to look her son in the eyes to tell him she fought for his freedom and rights. They haven’t released her as of yet but she’s fine. And yes, she is everything you see in this photo + so much more.”
Haynes and his wife, Natasha, told The Washington Post that although Evans lives in Pennsylvania, she attended the protest down South for her son, who she “wants a better future for.”
“She was overcome by emotions while she was watching the protest,” the statement read. “The officers wanted to push the protesters and viewers further back and she found that unjust — given that it was a peaceful protest.”
According to The Daily Mail, Evans — who works as licensed practical nurse — spent 24 hours in jail after she was arrested by law enforcement. Haynes told The Washington Post that she was released from jail on Sunday night. The Advocate reports that more than 100 people were arrested at the protest.
Bachman opened up to BuzzFeed about taking the photo, which has already been compared by social media users to other iconic images such as the girl crying over her dead friend at Kent State protest and John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s casket.
“That was the first image I transferred [to Reuters] because I knew it was going to be an important photo,” Bachman told the site. “You can take images of plenty of people getting arrested, but I think this one speaks more to the movement and what the demonstrators are trying to accomplish here in Baton Rouge.”
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