Wednesday, October 22, 2003

When Protesters Attack

Evan Coyne Maloney, a guy who goes to protests and interviews people, often showing their relative ignorance about the subject they're supposedly very up in arms about, went to the Palestinian Solidarity Conference near Rutgers University earlier this month, and reports that he was physically attacked at the rally.

Even before the first speaker addressed the rally, people walked among the attendees, once again pointing us out as "Zionists". One protester came up to the camera and started blocking it with his sign. When I moved the camera several feet away, and the protester followed and again obstructed the view. I moved again, and he followed again. I tried raising the camera above the sign, but he just raised his sign.

We started asking him why he was trying to censor us. (One of the complaints made by the protesters was that the university tried to censor them. But if they were so sensitive to censorship, why were they trying to do it to me?) He didn't have an answer. I asked again while moving the camera, and again, no response. The commotion attracted a group of protesters, who surrounded me and blocked the camera's view in all directions.

Once again, I tried to move, but I was now completely encircled. When I tried to escape, the protesters then started smacking the camera with their signs, while others were shoving me from different directions. I started retreating, pushing my way back from the loudspeaker, all the while leaving the camera running and asking the protesters why they weren't letting me film. One man tried to prevent me from getting audio by unleashing a high-pitched squeal into the microphone. Another man asked me whether my camera was expensive, a question that--under the circumstances--I interpreted as a veiled threat.

Alexis and Tim also had cameras and were able to snap some stills and shoot few seconds of video. But they, too, were set upon by protesters. When they tried to use their cameras, protesters would put signs in the way. They dodged and weaved like basketball players, but at each turn, they were stopped. One protester with a masked face lunged at Alexis, threatening to break her camera and telling her, "I'm gonna kick your fucking ass." She was also hit by signs.

There's also a video report of the incident.

Peace lovers, all.


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