This photo by Ann Johansson is very different than most of the incredible set of images documenting the start of a worldwide campaign to save the Sumatran rainforest.
A Greenpeace activist looks up at Mattel headquarters in Los Angeles from a police van where she is being detained. The focus is sharp on her face but the reflection of the building and the giant banner are rich and colorful. She appears inspired that “the banner yet waves” after another giant banner that she helped hang on the opposite side of the building in non-violent protest, was brought down in a peaceful, orderly conclusion.
The action was the first in an international Greenpeace campaign that had Mattel's signature couple breaking up when "Ken" discovers that "Barbie" is causing rainforest destruction. Research revealed that packaging for the doll comes from the rainforest of Indonesia where the last Sumatran tigers are threatened with extinction by the rapid pace of habitat destruction.
Some of the comments on our Flickr photo sharing site and news reports about the action were not kind. Some people condemned Greenpeace for publicly calling attention to issues and dismissed the activists who risked their safety and freedom to bring attention to the issue of rainforest destruction. Commercial destruction of the planet is not stopped by gathering signatures on petitions alone. Global companies like Mattel are looking for the cheapest source of materials for their products. What is cheap to destroy, like the faraway home of the Sumatran tiger, is worth far more to the people of Indonesia and to the earth as a whole, as an amazing, vibrant, tropical rainforest than as brightly printed cardboard, torn up and discarded as soon as a toy is opened. Every child knows.