On June 5, 1989, a petrifying procession of Type 59 tanks with bright red stars emblazoned on the sides rolled down the eerily vacant streets of Chang’an Avenue, headed towards Tiananmen Square. Photographer Jeff Widener, along with the disorderly rabble of the media, public, and protesters, watched with bated breath, some from the sidelines, and some from the windows of buildings and nearby establishments.
Suddenly, the buzz of panic turned into a chorus of disbelieving gasps. A man by his lonesome, dressed in a white cotton blouse and a pair of black slacks, casually strolled into the street, two shopping bags swinging in hand. Some were bewildered by the thought of the man foolishly attempting to cross the road at the worst possible time, but when this man deliberately stopped in the path of the tanks, there was a beat of stunned silence. The man, perhaps unaware of the thousands of eyes fixated on him, coolly stared down the tanks as their treads slowly grinded to a halt, one at a time.