A New Perspective on Tank Man

  • Share
  • Read Later

The New York Times’ Lens blog has a fascinating photo from the 1989 crackdown in Beijing that hasn’t been published until now. It is of “tank man,” the anonymous pedestrian who blocked a row of tanks, producing one of the iconic images of that event. But unlike the more famous photos and footage taken from up in the Beijing Hotel, this image from AP staffer Terril Jones was shot at street level. It shows two men running from the tanks and another fleeing by bicycle, heightening the sense of peril. The tanks are still a few hundred feet away, and a man with a jacket and shopping bag awaits their arrival.


Terril Jones / AP

Jones wrote:

I’ve always regretted not staying in place longer 20 years ago, despite the gunshots, and taken more photos, so that I might have realized what was unfolding before my eyes. But while I missed the timeliest opportunity to share this photo in 1989, today is an appropriate time to pull it out finally from its decades-old wraps.

Also check out this audio slideshow from Magnum photographer Stuart Franklin, who describes working during the crackdown, and his experience shooting images of “tank man” for TIME.