A young black man in sunglasses holds a sign with bold print in full view of the camera: "I AM A MAN."
The word "am" is underlined. He's not just stressing the word, he's insisting on it. Around him, there are others with similar signs, black ink on white paper. Some look into the camera lens, some stare ahead, defiant.
For years, this description would have fit the iconic Builder Levy photograph captured during the 1968 wildcat sanitation strike in Memphis, Tennessee, the year Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. But as of a few days ago, people are finding a second photograph far too similar.
Michael Brown, 18, was walking in his grandmother's neighborhood in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9 when he was fatally shot by a police officer.
A crowd gathered around the site, as did a flock of police cars. Tensions grew. The "militarized" police response to the protests that followed set armored vehicles, tear gas and rubber bullets against civilians.
For many, the scene in Ferguson looks like something out of the 1960s, when such responses were far too common.
Internet users across the country soon began uploading photos of the police response to civil rights protests and photos from Ferguson and comparing them side by side. The similarities are striking, as are the questions they raise.
Left: Police dogs attack protester in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. Right: A police dog in front of protesters in Ferguson.
Left: Police officers stare down civil rights activists marching to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. Right: Police officers stare down a group of protesters.
The #Ferguson police look more militarized now than the actual National Guard, here from the 1967 Newark riots: pic.twitter.com/qk3CKqSp8o
— Mike Konczal (@rortybomb) August 13, 2014
Top: Armed National Guardsmen advance toward a little boy during the 1967 Newark Riots. Bottom: Armed police officers advance toward an unarmed protester.
Top: A sign reading "NO KILLER COPS IN OUR COMMUNITY" is held aloft by a protester. Bottom: Protester holds sign reading "KILLER COPS WILL NOT GO FREE!" during the 1964 Harlem Riots.
Ferguson has happened before. In America. A lot. Just didn't get tweeted. pic.twitter.com/fvvePyvgRl
— Evan Hill (@evanchill) August 14, 2014
National Guardsmen march toward smoke from the 1965 Watts Riots' streetfires.