Nurse in U.S. protest photo says she felt she had to face police
(Reuters) – The black woman photographed in a sleeveless summer dress standing firmly before police in riot gear said she felt compelled to confront the officers during a protest last weekend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Ieshia Evans, 35, was made famous by the widely shared picture, which encapsulated for some the spirit of demonstrators across the United States protesting against police treatment of African-Americans. The photo, which depicts a straight-backed Evans wearing glasses and a calm, immobile expression, was taken by Reuters freelance photographer Jonathan Bachman.
During the July 9 incident, police ordered protesters off the street. But Evans, a licensed nurse, told CBS “This Morning” she wanted to see the two officers, who were clad in helmets, face shields and black padding from head to toe.
“I just – I needed to see them. I needed to see the officers,” Evans said in the interview, which aired in full on Friday. She was arrested, like dozens of others during the protests in Baton Rouge, for obstructing a highway.
“I’m human. I’m a woman. I’m a mom. I’m a nurse. I could be your nurse. I could be taking care of you. You know? Our children could be friends. We all matter. We don’t have to beg to matter. We do matter,” she said.
Baton Rouge has become a flashpoint for protesters after Alton Sterling, 37, was shot and killed last week by city police who were responding to a call that he had threatened someone with a gun outside a convenience store where he was selling CDs.
Sterling’s death, followed by the fatal shooting of another black man, Philando Castile, 32, near St. Paul, Minnesota, revived a wave of protests that has swirled for two years and has given rise to a loose movement called Black Lives Matter.
Some have compared the photograph of Evans, a slight woman in a long, flowy dress, to other famous photos of civil strife, including the Chinese man standing before a tank during the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising in Beijing.
Asked if she was scared, Evans replied, “There was no fear in my body.”
Evans said she never thought of herself as an activist before, but after seeing the videos of Sterling and Castile, she felt different.
“Something has to be done,” she told CBS. “Sometimes, you know, jobs are given to you that you are not, really, you didn’t apply for.”
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco and Isma’il Kushkush in Washington; Editing by Andrew Hay and Frances Kerry)