One photo perfectly captured the strength of Black Lives Matter protesters in the face of police oppression. That photo is of 28-year-old Ieshia Evans, a mother and protester calmly facing down heavily armored riot police in the middle of a Baton Rouge street. Evans is seen unflinchingly standing tall, with her feet firmly planted, looking officers directly in the eye as they seem to stumble backward upon approaching her.

“I went into the street with my arms crossed and just stared at them,” Evans told her friend. “I guess they didn’t like it because they detained me.”

The photo of Evans has gone viral, with some social media users referring to the image as the “Tiananmen Square moment” of the Black Lives Matter movement (Evans’ first name was unfortunately misspelled as “Leshia” in the initial hashtag on Twitter).

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Evans, who works as a licensed practical nurse, was so moved by the graphic video of Alton Sterling’s final moments that she traveled from New York City to Baton Rouge to join last weekend’s protests, according to the Daily Mail. According to Natasha Haynes, a longtime friend of Evans, the young mother was “overcome with emotion” and became worried about the future of her 5-year-old son growing up in America, so she left her son with the safety of his father and vowed to join the protests.

At the moment the photo was captured, Evans had ran forward to the front lines of the protests. She then stood in the street facing the officers with her arms folded. Officers arrested Evans and 131 others throughout Friday and Saturday, including Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson, who ran for mayor of Baltimore earlier this year.

Evans was released on Sunday after being held overnight for roughly 24 hours. This was her first protest.

Upon her release, Evans remained gracious and humble. “I just need you people to know. I appreciate the well wishes and love, but this is the work of God,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “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.”

While Baton Rouge police told The Advocate that one officer had his teeth knocked out as the result of objects thrown from the protests, and that officers confiscated several guns from protesters, McKesson maintains that protesters remained peaceful.

“The only people who were violent last night were the Baton Rouge Police department,” McKesson said after being released from jail. “The protesters remained peaceful, both here and across the country.”

A bail fund has been launched on crowdfunding site Crowdrise to support legal costs for the jailed protesters. As of this writing, the fund is over $174,000 of the way to its $300,000 goal.

 

Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Send him an email: [email protected]

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