As thousands of people gathered in Portland streets in the United States for another night of protests Friday, an image of a naked woman facing off a row of armed police on a road and striking ballet poses in defiance of authority went viral.
The unidentified woman emerged out of the crowd at about 1.45 am in the wee hours of Saturday, even as police continued to lob pepper balls and tear gas at protesters who have been holding nightly demonstrations in Portland, Oregon since the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
As per reports, the woman stepped out of the crowd, stark naked and wearing just a mask and a cap, and sat down in front of the charging line of cops, facing them.
The demonstration lasted for 15 minutes in the course of which the woman struck several ballet-like poses, perhaps in an effort to express the beauty in her vulnerability as she stood in prospective harm’s way. In the course of the stunt, a fellow protester came to offer the woman protection behind his shield.
The woman, who has been dubbed “Naked Athena" by the internet, stepped out from the behind the shield, signalling that she needed no protection. after the demonstration, witnesses and protesters present at the site aid that she left the street and mingled back in the crowd just as innocuously as she had appeared.
The incident occurred on the same day as a U.S. judge denied Oregon’s request to restrict federal agents’ actions when they arrest people during chaotic demonstrations that have roiled the city and pitted local officials against the Trump administration.
As per a report in The Oregonian, the photographer who clicked the viral photo of her sitting naked across the police, Dave Killen, said that the woman had been very vulnerable. “It would have been incredibly painful to be shot with any of those munitions with no clothes on," he said.
In a recent podcast interview over the weekend, the woman stepped out to reveal herself as Jen, a sex worker in her 30s who claimed that her encounter with the police was not planned and that she had reacted that way in the spur of the moment as she found the behaviour of the cops offensive.
“The fury arose in me and I told my friends ‘I want to be naked, I want to confront them’, and my partner said ‘I’ll hold your clothes," and so I ducked in a doorway and took everything off except my mask and my hat… because its cold. And I walked out there," she revealed in the ‘Unrefined Sophisticates’ podcast.
In Portland, it is legal to protest naked if the demonstration is intended to make a political point. The viral photos, neverthless, have managed to tick off many including right-wing conservatives who have tagged the woman as an “Antifa" nutcase while others have criticised the white woman for stealing attention from the cause of racial injustice and Black Lives Matter.
Meanwhile, House Democrats and lawmakers in the US continued to mount pressure on the Trump administration to withdraw federal troops from Portland, which has been the hotspot for continued Black Lives Matter protests.
The Federal agents, deployed by President Donald Trump to tamp down the unrest, have arrested dozens during nightly demonstrations against racial injustice that often turn violent. Democratic leaders in Oregon say federal intervention has worsened the two-month crisis, and the state attorney general sued to allege that some people had been whisked off the streets in unmarked vehicles.
(With inputs from the Associated Press)