Standing in the street in a flowing gown, Ieshia Evans was arrested by heavily armed riot police in Baton Rouge, and in one moment, she captured the entirety of the struggle we face. Photographer Jonathan Bachman photographed the iconic image which has swept through the news media this morning as if it was Tiananmen Square.
“There are certain photos that define a moment: The man in front of the tank in [Tiananmen] Square; the girl crying over her dead friend at Kent State; the sailor dipping and kissing the girl in Times Square; John John saluting JFK’s casket,” wrote Cynthia Cox Ubaldo on Facebook. “This is one of those iconic photos to define the moment and the movement.”
Evans was arrested Saturday and charged with obstructing a highway, according to a list published by Baton Rouge authorities. Before the facts are all in, the media is beginning to deify this Evans as a champion. A social media statement published in The Atlantic (the media outlet Bachman used to publish his photograph) purportedly from Evans seems encouraging.
I just need you people to know. I appreciate the well wishes and love, but this is the work of God. I am a vessel! Glory to the most high! I’m glad I’m alive and safe. And that there were no casualties that I have witnessed first hand.
A follow up statement is more disappointing, with the signature “Peace, love, blk power!”
To all of my friends and acquaintances please don’t do any interviews about me. If they want my story, I am here. I would like the opportunity to represent myself! Thank you. Peace, love, blk power! #blacklivesmatter
Either Evans is a genuine hero who, by her iconic image, will be able to promote healing, or she’s in the same camp as President Obama’s former preacher, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who proclaimed “God damn America” from the pulpit.
According to the Washington Post, Evans traveled from her home in Pennsylvania to Baton Rouge to participate in the BLM protest. She appears to have known she would be arrested. She planned–even staged–her own arrest.
“This is my best friend that I have known since we were 8 (20 years now),” wrote R. Alex Haynes. “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.”
Evans’ arrest is not an outrage, but the unforgettable image should remind us of what is at stake. Do we want an America where things like this happen regularly? As powerful an image as Evans juxtaposed with rifle-slinging officers presented, I’d rather we never had to witness it at all.