A photograph of a woman protesting the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last weekend — striking because of her resolute facial expression, dignified pose and the juxtaposition between her flowing dress and the riot gear of the Louisiana State Police as they approach to arrest her — has gone viral, and now we know that the woman at the center of the photo is a mother to a 5-year-old boy.
Ieshia Evans went to Baton Rouge to join the protests "because she wanted to look her son in the eyes to tell him she fought for his freedom and rights," a friend named R. Alex Haynes wrote on Facebook. "And yes, she is everything you see in this photo and so much more," he wrote.
According to Reuters, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office's records show that Iesha Evans was booked on a charge of simple obstruction of a highway and released, one of 102 people arrested on July 9 during protests against police brutality.
“I just need you people to know. I appreciate the well wishes and love, but this is the work of God. I am a vessel!” Evans wrote on her Facebook page on July 10. “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.”
Evans did not respond to an interview request from TODAY Parents. On her Facebook page she said she is not yet ready to talk to the media.
"I just want to get home to my son right now," she wrote. "I've been through a lot."
Evans is a licensed practical nurse from New York City.
New Orleans-based freelance photographer Jonathan Bachman captured the photo of Evans for Reuters. Evans was standing illegally in the street at the time, blocking traffic, after police had started clearing the then-peaceful crowd off the road. Bachman told The Atlantic that Evans did not resist and that the police did not “drag her off.”
"To me, it seemed like she was making her stand and she was like, 'You’re going to have to come and get me,'" the photographer said.
“It wasn’t very violent,” he said.
The photo is already being hailed as an iconic image of the #blacklivesmatter protests. The Guardian newspaper, based in London, called it "an instant classic."
Karen Palmer, a black mother of a 13-year-old girl from Brooklyn, New York, told TODAY Parents that when she saw the picture of Evans, she was struck by the woman’s quiet determination and composure. “Seeing her made me feel proud, angry and terrified, all at once,” said Palmer.
“In an instant, she symbolized the will and the resolve to stand up against injustice, regardless of the personal cost. But the fact that our young people have to continue to put themselves in harm's way to focus attention on basic human rights and to demand accountability, generation after generation — that's an complete indictment of our society.”