Baton Rouge, America’s Tiananmen Square
Tank Man (also known as the Unknown Protester or Unknown Rebel) is the nickname of an unidentified man who stood in front of a column of tanks on June 4, 1989, the morning after the Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 by force. As the lead tank maneuvered to pass by the man, he repeatedly shifted his position in order to obstruct the tank’s attempted path around him. The incident was filmed and seen worldwide.
Welcome to Baton Rouge: America’s Tiananmen Square
More than 25 years after the incident, during the last 48 hours in Baton Rouge, La., where the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by police officers last week has reignited a national conversation on race and policing, over 120 protesters have been arrested — including prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson.
But intense attention, however, has been focused on the image of the arrest of a lone woman in a flowing dress that has since gone viral. The woman stands, arms crossed, in front of a phalanx of officers, silent — even serene — but seemingly refusing to budge.
Although the woman’s identity is not yet confirmed, her actions were described in detail by the photographer who captured the image.
“A group of demonstrators had formed a blockade — blocked Airline Highway, which runs in front of Baton Rouge Police headquarters,” Jonathan Bachman, a New Orleans–based photographer who was on assignment for Reuters, told the Atlantic. Bachman said officers belonging to several divisions of Louisiana law enforcement, many clad in riot gear, descended on the highway to clear the protesters from its path.
“I saw this woman, and she was standing in the first lane in that road,” he said. “It happened quickly, but I could tell that she wasn’t going to move, and it seemed like she was making her stand. To me it seemed like: You’re going to have to come and get me.”
Bachman further stressed that in contrast to the violence and confrontation that has marked other protests across the country (some of which also broke out in Baton Rouge later), this interaction was completely peaceful.
“It wasn’t very violent. She didn’t say anything,” he added. “She didn’t resist, and the police didn’t drag her off.”
I am not writing this and assuming that everyone makes the connection, but you should be curious to realize that in the fgace of Chaos: The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend.
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