TIME the backstory

A Desperate Leap of Faith in London: The Riot Photo That Has the World Buzzing

With each huge news story there is a scramble it seems to find the icon—the single photograph that resonates deeper and more powerfully than the rest, and comes to symbolize the event in the mind of readers. Amy Weston may have captured that image.

With each huge news story, there is a scramble, it seems, to find the icon — the single photograph that resonates deeper and more powerfully than the rest and comes to symbolize the event in the mind of readers. Amy Weston may have captured that image on Monday night.

Weston, a photographer with the London-based WENN photo agency, had heard that there were fires in the Church Street area of Croydon and headed that way. “By the time I drove toward it, I could already see the fires from my windscreen,” she says. “There were six or seven people screaming and crying outside, and they looked like they lived at the flats that were burning. A man in a white shirt was screaming that a girl was at the window and that she was ready to jump. He ran toward her, but riot police had appeared and pulled him back, and they went to her instead.”

Weston then made the photograph that quickly went viral on Twitter and landed on the front pages of many major British newspapers on Tuesday morning.

“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,” Weston says. “The crowds started getting angry with each other, with one group blaming another group for starting the fire.”

Weston says she feared for her safety after taking the dramatic photograph. “I couldn’t get to my car, so I had to walk, wrapping my camera in my clothes to avoid being mugged.”

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


YOU BROKE TIME.COM!

Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team