Baton Rouge killing: Black Lives Matter protest photo hailed as 'legendary'

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A demonstrator protesting at the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US July 9, 2016.Image source, Jonathan Bachman/Reuters
Image caption,
Jonathan Bachman's image from Baton Rouge has been widely shared on social media

Protests have continued in the United States, after violent incidents involving African American people and the police last week.

On Sunday, dozens of protesters were arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a black man was killed by police last Tuesday.

In an atmosphere of heightened racial tension, and amid growing debate over the seeming militarisation of American police, one photo has stood out.

It was taken by Jonathan Bachman, a New Orleans-based photographer who has been working for Reuters in the past few days.

The image shows Ieshia Evans, a young woman in a dress standing calmly in front of two police officers wearing layers of armour, and appearing to approach her in a hurry.

The photograph was taken outside the Baton Rouge police headquarters, where most of Saturday's protest was focused.

"The police were called out to clear Airline Highway where demonstrators had blocked the road... They managed to get most of the protesters off to the side," Bachman told the BBC via email.

"I was on the side of the road photographing protesters arguing with police.

"I looked over my right shoulder and saw the woman step onto the road. She was making her stand. She said nothing and was not moving. It was clear that the police were going to have to detain her."

Reuters reported that she was later detained.

Then Ms Evans herself took to Facebook to respond to the furore, saying she was "alive and safe".

"I appreciate the well wishes and love, but this is the work of God. I am a vessel!"


Among the most prominent people to share the image on Facebook was Shaun King, a senior justice reporter with the New York Daily News newspaper with more than 560,000 followers.

One comment beneath his post, liked more than 3,300 times, called it a "legendary picture" that "will be in history and art books from this time".

Image source, Facebook/Shaun King

The demonstration, organised by the civil rights group Black Lives Matter, took place days after police killed Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. A video showed two white police officers holding him down and shooting him. Police said they had received a report an armed man was making threats.

Other notable figures online to share the image include Calestous Juma, a Kenyan-born professor at the John F Kennedy School of Government, who was once named among the 100 most influential Africans.

British-Indian novelist Hari Kunzru praised the "grace under pressure" shown by the woman in the photo.

Bachman said he was unaware of the praise he was getting until his father called him, a few hours later.

So how does he feel?

"I feel very humble to capture an image that tells the story of what has been happening here in Baton Rouge.

"The woman did not show any aggression toward the police. I feel it is very representative of the peaceful demonstrations that have taken place here. People are very angry and have gone through a tremendous amount of pain; but they have not turned to violence."

He is still in Baton Rouge, covering the events there.

The incident was also captured from another angle by Associated Press photographer Max Becherer.

Image source, Max Becherer/AP

AP reported that the woman in the photograph was grabbed by officers after refusing to move off the road.

The protests were not entirely peaceful - Louisiana's The Advocate newspaper said 102 people were arrested, with eight guns seized. One police officer lost several teeth after being hit by a projectile, it said.

Image source, Jonathan Bachman/Reuters
Image caption,
This image shows a man being detained by police near the Baton Rouge Police Department
Image source, Jonathan Bachman/Reuters
Image caption,
A young woman confronts police during Saturday's march
Image source, Jonathan Bachman/Reuters
Image caption,
In this image, a Bible is held to the sky near the supermarket outside which Alton Sterling was shot

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