Washington, DC – Some news media organization purchased bulletproof vests, helmets, and gas masks for their reporters and camera crews ahead of President Joe Biden’s inaugural events only to be told they wouldn’t be allowed to wear them by the U.S. Capitol Police.
Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau Chief Kimbriell Kelly told CNN that she purchased and distributed the protective equipment to staff members who were covering the events on Jan. 20, CNN reported.
“I quickly saw my role as a person who had to adapt,” Kelly said. “My goal is to protect my staff, protect my reporters and make sure that everybody is taken care of.”
The strong reaction was in response to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 when videos showed supporters of President Donald Trump outside the Capitol building smashed cameras and other equipment while yelling and spitting at reporters.
US Press Freedom Tracker Managing Editor Kirstin McCudden said nine journalists were assaulted that day and four had equipment destroyed, CNN reported.
McCudden said another five journalists were arrested during the chaos.
So reporters began preparing themselves for similar civil unrest on Inauguration Day, CNN reported.
Yesterday I went shopping for a new winter coat that would fit over a bulletproof vest so I can safely (and warmly) cover the inauguration of the next president of the United States.
What an absolutely absurd sentence to write. https://t.co/zH89jT4HGa
— Katie Mettler (@kemettler) January 11, 2021
But as soon as reports of the media prepping themselves for another riot on Jan. 20 hit the airwaves, the U.S. Capitol Police in charge of Inauguration security pushed back, according to The Hill.
Capitol Police sent out guidance on Tuesday to all of the media outlets credentialed to cover the ceremony that said journalists would not be allowed to bring tactical gear through the screening checkpoints set up around the Capitol’s perimeter.
An outraged social media mob let loose with complaints about the security decision, demanding that reporters “deserved as much protection as the police.”
That’s bullshit. They deserve as much protection as police. Our nation would crumble without credible journalists willing to risk their lives to make sure we the people know what is happening
— Lucy (@lucycookiz) January 19, 2021
Reporters weren’t happy about the decision.
“For all of the pageantry and theater of booing the media, when you go up to talk to people afterward, in my experience, they’d actually been pretty polite,” BuzzFeed News’ Paul McLeod said about covering Trump rallies.
“I identified myself as a reporter to one person [on the 6th] who started screaming at me and trying to scream at other people around that I was a reporter and calling all kinds of attention to me. I got out of there, and obviously, stopped identifying myself as a reporter to anyone,” McLeod complained to CNN.
Some media outlets said they were requiring their reporters to team up and others said they had hired security to protect their camera crews.
Violent antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters have been terrorizing reporters in some cities for months.
It began with attacks on conservative journalists and grew into something much larger and uglier as rioters declared entire areas of cities off-limits to news cameras.
Videos of a conservative reporter being attacked by a mob in June in Portland went viral after he was beaten and had his camera stolen.
Reporter Andy Ngo was filming the crowd when he was attacked from multiple directions by masked antifa and his GoPro camera was stolen.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 29, 2019
Multiple police officers were also injured during that riot.
“I was in the middle of the crowd with my GoPro just recording it, and then all of a sudden somebody or something hit me very hard in the back of the head and knocked me forward,” Ngo told FOX News at the time.
“Punches just came from every direction. And they were striking me repeatedly in the eyes, the back of the head and the top,” he recalled. “I put up my arms at one point just to shield myself and to let them know that I am not a combatant. And then the crowd threw eggs and milkshakes at my face.”
But mainstream media largely ignored antifa attacks against journalists unless it was their own media outlet’s staff under attack.
The Washington Post reported that one of its reporters was assaulted in August of 2020 when he tried to interview antifa violently protesting in the nation’s capital.
Small groups of antifa threatened and harassed reporters attempting to cover a protest against a white supremacy rally that didn’t end up happening that day.
Despite the lack of white supremacists, antifa continued to march through the city vandalizing property and harassing citizens while they demanded the media not take pictures or video of them.
“F—king camera fairy, f—k off!” an antifa rioter screamed at a videographer for The Washington Post.
“He’s got a camera!” another woman yelled. “Get that camera!”
Video captured another photographer in a rain poncho being chased down an alley by antifa, The Washington Post reported.
“You’re betraying us!” a woman yelled at reporters. “Are you going to report how many people they tear-gassed?”
Dodged an egg thrown at my head from inside the Antifa crowd as NPR's Brian Mann narrated pic.twitter.com/wQKUdSCirw
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) August 12, 2018
NPR’s Tim Mak reported that antifa threw eggs at him the same day.