As violent Trump supporters terrorized the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, members of Congress were not the only people they were looking to intimidate. These terrorists also targeted journalists and press under Donald Trump’s message of declaring the news and media an “enemy of the people.”
“Murder the media,” was written on a door of the Capitol while terrorists took over and attacked a group of reporters. In one incident John Minchillo, a photographer of the Associated Press, was attacked by a mob of Trump supporters outside the Capitol building. The violent incident was captured on video and shared by another photographer on Twitter. Local photographers and reporters were present at the break of the horrific violence that took place Wednesday. Footage shared on social media depicts the consequences of words bigots like Trump use to incite violence on communities and spaces.
“Please use this moment to reflect on the importance of journalism as a conduit between us. We tell stories. That’s our mission. We have the privilege to shepherd moments over time and space. Please subscribe to your hard working local papers, support their vocation,” Minchillo replied to the video of his attack being shared on Twitter.
(WARNING: This story contains violent video, photos, and language that may not be suitable for all readers.)
In a thread of photos posted on Twitter, BuzzFeed News reporter Paul McLeod captured photos of equipment left behind by the Associated press after crowds attacked reporters. According to McLeod, one man yelled “We are the news now, as a crowd damaged the equipment. McLeod also reported that a noose was fashioned from a camera cord and hung from a tree.
The Associated Press confirmed that its equipment had been stolen and destroyed and noted that none of its staff members had been injured.
In another video posted on Twitter, the terrorists again attempted to target individuals they thought were from CNN. While it is unclear whether the journalist was from CNN, the fact that these journalists were assaulted is not okay.
But the violent Trump allies were not the only ones after journalists on Wednesday. Reporters for The Washington Post were shortly detained by police while reporting on Tuesday night, following a pattern of law enforcement officials arresting reporters for doing their work throughout this year.
The reporters arrested were identified as Zoeann Murphy and Whitney Leaming. The two shared on Twitter that they were safe after quickly being released. “I have heard from so many journalist friends/colleagues who were at or around the Capitol today that they are ‘fine’. This is a lie,” Leaming tweeted. “They are not fine but they push aside their physical safety and mental health to focus on the story at hand [because] one of the most important rules of journalism is that the story is not about you. Just please remember that and maybe not threaten their life, I beg you.”
According to The New York Times, media officials were threatened and surrounded for hours, those inside the Capitol building were forced to find shelter in secure locations to avoid assault. A reporter with The Los Angeles Times recalled her experience hiding in the House gallery during an armed standoff.
Sarah D. Wire of The Los Angeles Times wrote:
I heard a ruckus behind me and turned and saw a dozen reporters being ushered into the gallery from press offices. Then police shut and locked the doors. Police interrupted the proceedings to announce that tear gas had been deployed in the rotunda.
A staff member handed me an evacuation hood, a cumbersome plastic bag that filters out tear gas and chemicals. She told me to pass it and others down the row until everyone had one. Reporters were not the only ones in the gallery. Staff members were monitoring the proceedings. More than a dozen lawmakers had also taken seats in the public galleries overlooking the House floor. Now we were locked in the room together.
The rioters driven by Trump’s hate clearly had no fear of police involvement. CBS News reporter Chip Reid, who has worn protective gear he last wore while covering conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, noted that a rioter told him law enforcement officials would not protect journalists. “There were no police around us—we were on our own,” Reid said. “We high-tailed it out of there.”
Of course, Trump later addressed the crowd in a video statement Wednesday but continued on his claims that the election has been “stolen.” The video removed by many social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter is predicted to incite further violence. As Trump continues to target anyone who calls out his lies, his zombies continue to ready for battle.
“Rioters at the Capitol called for violence against members of the news media, destroyed news equipment and verbally harassed journalists as the ‘enemy of the people’s—actions that not only pose a dire threat to those working tirelessly to bring information to our communities, but also to the press freedom that is a bedrock value of our nation,” Bruce Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a statement.
“These actions are the direct result of years of this language stoking fear and hate for one of our most vital institutions. Our free press is crucial to democracy, and indeed, one of the pillars that will help keep it standing beyond this moment.”