‘Graceful in the lion’s den’: Photo of young woman’s arrest in Baton Rouge becomes powerful symbol

By Michael E. Miller , Washington Post

 

Photo of woman in Baton Rouge

Iconic photo of Ieshia Evans, a young Black woman protesting in Baton Rouge, LA

 

She was the calm at the center of the storm, a storm spreading across the country. The young woman stood silently on the cracked asphalt, her summer dress billowing in the breeze. Around her swirled a kinetic mix of police officers and protesters. Dozens of demonstrators had blocked Baton Rouge’s Airline Highway on Saturday to denounce the death four days earlier of Alton Sterling, shot by police outside a convenience store. Many protesters carried signs. Some shouted into bullhorns. A few carried guns.
A phalanx of police officers stepped across the road, dressed in riot gear.
Jonathan Bachman of Reuters News was snapping pictures of protesters yelling at the officers when he turned and saw her.
The woman in the summer dress didn’t seem to look at the two officers as they ran toward her. Instead, she seemed to look beyond them — even as they arrested her.
“She just stood there and made her stand,” the Reuters photographer told BuzzFeed. “I was just happy to be able to capture something like that.” Bachman’s powerful photo quickly went viral.
The young woman’s stoic pose drew comparisons to Rosa Parks’s refusing to give up a seat on a segregated bus or “tank man” facing down war machines in Tiananmen Square.
Some likened her to a modern-day Statue of Liberty, guiding a bitterly divided country back toward the proper path. Others called her a “superhero.”
Several, however, said she was simply breaking the law and deserved her night in jail.
What is clear is that the image of the young woman’s arrest has captured a critical moment for the country. Like the Facebook video of Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds calmly talking to the officer who had just fatally shot her fiance, the photo of the arrest in Baton Rouge encapsulates  the anger, struggle, exhaustion and spirit of Black Lives Matter activists.
“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.”
Bachman knew he had a great photo, but he didn’t get the woman’s name.
Within hours of the photo’s publication, news outlets, activists and the Internet itself were working overtime to figure out who she was. The Atlantic and the BBC both asked readers for help.
After activist and New York Daily News writer Shaun King posted the photo to Facebook, several self-identified friends and family members identified her as Ieshia Evans.
“To see all of the comments under this post shows me that my cousin did not make a mistake by going out there and standing up for her rights and what she believes in,” wrote Nikka Thomas. “I’m proud to call you my family Ieshia.”
“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.”
Haynes told The Washington Post that Evans is, in fact, the woman in the photo. He forwarded a statement from him and his wife, Natasha, saying that Ieshia is from Brooklyn and lives in Pennsylvania. (Public records support this.) Evans traveled to Baton Rouge after the fatal police-involved shooting of Alton Sterling because “she has a son she wants a better future for,” according to the statement.

 

Obama calls for mutual respect from Black Lives Matter and police

By: Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

President Obama

President Barack Obama

 

MADRID Spain — The Black Lives Matter movement that’s arisen in response to police shootings of black men is part of a long line of protest movements that have transformed America for the better, President Obama said Sunday, defending the protests amid renewed tensions over race and policing across the country. But he also acknowledged that those debates are often “messy and controversial,” and urged protesters to “maintain a respectful, thoughtful tone” after a week of deadly shootings — both of African-American men by police and of police officers by a Dallas gunman.
Obama cut short his four-day trip to Europe and instead will go to Dallas Tuesday to speak an an interfaith prayer service, the White House announced Sunday. He’ll also devote most of the week working on police issues, aides said.
Obama has spoken about the events of last week four times in the last three days, even as he’s juggled an important foreign trip with NATO allies in Warsaw and Spanish leaders in Madrid. But Sunday’s comments were focused on the social media-fueled protest movement that has has brought national attention to the issue of police shootings.
And they came the day after DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, was arrested at a protest in Baton Rouge. That’s where police shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling in an incident caught on video and widely shared on social media last Tuesday — the first of three incidents that brought issues of race and policing exploding back into the headlines.
On CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani called the Black Lives Matter movement “inherently racist” and that police feel it “puts a target on their back.” “They sing rap songs about killing police officers and they talk about killing police officers and they yell it out at their rallies and the police officers hear it,” Giuliani said
Obama condemned the more extreme voices, while defending the movement as a whole. “In a movement like Black Lives Matter there are always going to be folks who say things that are stupid or imprudent or over generalized or harsh,” Obama said after meeting with acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
“Whenever those of us who are concerned about fairness in the criminal justice system attack police officers, you are doing a disservice to the cause,” Obama said, calling violence against police a “reprehensible” crime that needs to be prosecuted. “But even rhetorically, if we paint police in broad brush without recognizing that the vast majority of police officers are doing a really good job and are trying to protect people … if the rhetoric does not recognize that, then we’re going to lose allies in the reform cause.”
Even before a sniper killed five police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Obama has gone out of his way to acknowledge both the evidence of bias in policing and the difficult and dangerous job that police officers have. “There are legitimate issues that have been raised,” he said. “And there is data and evidence to back up the concerns that are being expressed.”
Obama praised the Dallas police department and its chief, David Brown. “That’s part of why it’s so tragic that those officers were targeted in Dallas, a place that is because of its transparency and training and openness and engagement has drastically brought down the number of police shootings.”
Just as protesters need to be respectful of police, the law enforcement     community needs to listen the frustrations of people in minority communities, Obama said, and “Not just dismiss these protests and these complaints as political correctness or as politics or attacks on police.”.

Crisis erupts over police-linked killing of Kenyan human rights lawyer

 

Kenya protest

July 5, 2016 (GIN) – Four police officers have been arrested in the torture/murder of a noted Kenyan human rights lawyer and two other men.
The Law Society of Kenya called it “a dark day for the rule of law” and a countrywide boycott of the courts has been called.  The respected lawyer disappeared with his client and a taxi driver after filing a charge of police brutality. The officers are being held without bail while an investigation is underway.
Lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda, and their driver disappeared on June 23 after making the court filing. Their bodies were found on June 30, floating in the Oldonyo Sabuk river. CapitalFM, a local media group, said the men had been tied up with ropes and their bodies mutilated.
A government pathologist said their deaths were the result of beatings with a blunt object and strangulation. The incident has outraged the legal community where the rise of police killings has been a matter of concern.
“These extrajudicial killings are a chilling reminder that the hard-won right to seek justice for human rights violations is under renewed attack,” said Muthoni Wanyeki from Amnesty International.
“Police are there to protect Kenyans and not to kill them,” said Yash Pal Ghai, director of the Katiba Institute, a Kenyan legal group promoting social transformation through the constitution.
This week, hundreds of Kenyans including lawyers, human rights activists and taxi drivers held a peaceful protest as lawyers began a week-long walkout that will paralyze court operations around the country.
The Department of Public Prosecutions issued a statement assuring the public and legal fraternity that any rogue elements in the department “do not represent what the National Police stands for.”
But activists replied that extra-judicial killings were creeping back, and the Inspector General of Police should “pack and leave if he cannot assure Kenyans of security.”
Mr. Kimani had been working at the International Justice Mission (IJM), a U.S.-based rights group, when he was killed. An online petition calling for justice for Kimani, his client, and their driver Joseph Muiruri had 24,594 signatures at press time. The petition can be found at http://www.IJM.org/JusticeinKenya
“In Kenya,” it reads in part, “it is far too easy for a corrupt or incompetent police officer to frame and imprison an innocent person, who must then wait in jail, often for years on end, for a chance to prove his or her innocence. This corrupt system has packed Kenyan prisons full of innocent men and women with no way out and no lawyer to fight for their release – and the police who abuse their power are not held accountable.
“Willie Kimani was working to protect the innocent from such abuse, and he was murdered while courageously pursuing that mission.”