Iconic Baltimore Photo Resurfaces, Spreading Healing Message We All Need

During the Baltimore riots last year, several black men bravely formed a barrier to protect the police.

As the country begins to recover from a tumultuous few weeks, one powerful image from 2015 has resurfaced on social media, spreading hope for improved race relations with the police.

During the 2015 Baltimore protests, citizens formed a line in front of police officers to form a peaceful barrier between law
During the 2015 Baltimore protests, citizens formed a line in front of police officers to form a peaceful barrier between law enforcement and protestors.

Photojournalist Van Applegate first captured the above image on April 28, 2015, while covering the protests and riots that erupted in Baltimore after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died in police custody.

The photo shows a group of black men forming a barrier between police officers and protesters.

They didn’t associate with any one group, Applegate told The Huffington Post of the men, but they “were there to protect law enforcement as well as other citizens ― to be an extra layer.”

The powerful photograph recently resurfaced on Reddit, just one day after a lone gunman shot and killed five police officers in Dallas. There, Black Lives Matter protesters were marching peacefully in response to the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers.

Applegate said some people have confused his recirculated 2015 image with the current protests being held in response to Sterling and Castile’s deaths. He’s sent out tweets to clarify the photo’s timeline and even shared a video that explains what’s happening in the image.

“I thought if people were going to share it, they should know the original source,” Applegate told HuffPost. “I wanted to make it clear that it was from April 2015.”

In April 2015, after weeks of civil unrest and clashes between protesters and police officers on the streets of Baltimore, Applegate's photograph was a much needed breath of fresh air.

“We knew what were were shooting was something special,” Applegate said last year in an interview with ABC-affiliate WJLA, adding that he and his colleague were looking to cover more positive angles amid the protests while on assignment for the station. “Our goal was to figure out what people weren’t seeing and we found it on West North Street.”

Applegate said that, as a photojournalist, he tries to keep his eye out for positive moments while covering difficult news events.

The experience in Baltimore, he told HuffPost, gave him hope “that there’s more good than bad out there.”



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