Woman's Leap To Safety Becomes An Iconic Image Of London Riots

Aug 10, 2011
Originally published on August 10, 2011 8:32 am

An arresting image of a woman jumping into the arms of riot police has become a sensation, as the stark silhouette of her leaping figure against a background of bright flames captures a dramatic moment in Britain's riots. At least five of Britain's largest newspapers used the photo on their front pages Tuesday.

The photograph was taken by Amy Weston, of the WENN agency in London, as a fire spread from a nearby furniture store. She described how she came to take the photo in an interview with The Guardian:

"A man in a white shirt was screaming that a girl was at the window and that she was ready to jump. He ran towards her but riot police had appeared and pulled him back, and they went to her instead.

"As soon as she dropped, the crowds pushed back and there was no way to see what happened to her. I remember hearing people screaming that there were more people in the building. The crowds started getting angry with each other, with one group blaming another group for starting the fire."

Weston added that as she moved away from the area, she immediately wrapped her camera in her clothes, to keep rioters from taking it from her. British media are now trying to determine the identity of the woman, who reportedly left the scene unhurt, and quickly.

The fated-to-be-iconic photo joins the recent ranks of striking images that have captured dramatic events in a moment of unusual photographic clarity. For instance, there was the couple who made out during Vancouver's riots, and the more recent heartbreaking image of a Somali child, photographed by Tyler Hicks and famously featured on the front page of The New York Times.

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