Little is known about “Tank Man.” We can’t even say for certain whether he was Chinese. The grocery bags he carried indicate that he hadn’t left home the day after the massacre at Tiananmen Square to make history. But as he crossed Chang'an Avenue in Beijing, and he saw a column of Type 59 tanks approaching in all their inhumane grandeur, the decency bred in his bones stopped him dead in his tracks.
And so too did the tanks stop. Tank Man shifted position to prevent their circumventing his stand. He climbed atop the lead tank, had words with one of its crew, and then stopped its advance yet again. Some say Tank Man was executed by firing squad shortly thereafter. Others say even the Communist Party of China couldn’t discern his identity and that Tank Man lives to this day.
Tank Man was not the only one who protested in this fashion, but as the only one photographed doing so he became an enduring symbol of defiance. We pay tribute to his bravery with this fine sweater, which captures that singular moment when one man stood up against the world.
This canvas is also the reason you can’t access our website in China.