Several reporters encountered threatening and violent behavior while covering racially charged riots in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over the weekend, according to a report by BuzzFeed.
Cars stand burned in the lot of the BP gas station after rioters clashed with the Milwaukee Police Department protesting an officer-involved killing Saturday in Milwaukee. (Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
TheBlaze previously reported that freelancer Tim Pool announced he was leaving Milwaukee over race-related concerns for his safety.
“I think it’s safe to say it’s become a particularly dangerous racial issue,” Pool said in a video announcing his decision.
BuzzFeed reported that their own reporters who covered the riots in Milwaukee encountered threatening and violent behavior due to their race:
On Sunday evening, as several large crowds gathered for vigils, the environment turned from peaceful to hostile. "F*** off," some people shouted at BuzzFeed News. "What the f***’s that white guy doing here?" another said.
Protesters also threatened a number of journalists, particularly white reporters. Near a police line, angry men promised to "beat your white ass" and warned to "get the f*** out of here." A small rock was thrown at a BuzzFeed News reporter. A rapid succession of gunshots rang out from around the corner.
Later in the evening, a group of men in a large SUV followed a BuzzFeed News correspondent to a hotel north of downtown Milwaukee. At a red light, three men jumped out of their Chevrolet Suburban and began rushing toward the car. After a brief car chase through a neighborhood he arrived safely back at his hotel where an armed guard was stationed and the SUV drove off.
According to BuzzFeed, other members of the media encountered similar situations.
George Stanley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel told the outlet that his publication was advising reporters to travel in groups and “instructing them to put safety first.”
“We’ve never been attacked like this before, at least not in memory,” Stanley said.
A.J. Bayatpour, a reporter for Milwaukee WITI-TV, tweeted:
I apologize for cutting our broadcast. It got too dangerous. Shots fired about 15 feet from us and we were threatened multiple times.— A.J. Bayatpour (@AJBayatpour) August 15, 2016
It got way more intense. Was almost exclusively teens and 20 somethings. They threw rocks at police. Someone also tried to rob photographer.— A.J. Bayatpour (@AJBayatpour) August 15, 2016
Guy reached into photographer's pockets, keys fell out but he retrieved them. Hearing more shots in the distance. #Milwaukee— A.J. Bayatpour (@AJBayatpour) August 15, 2016
We're off the air for the night. Felt like we were those pedestrians in grand theft auto who get randomly run over or shot. #Milwaukee— A.J. Bayatpour (@AJBayatpour) August 15, 2016
Theo Keith, another reporter at WITI, added:
NEW: What sounded like a burst of gunfire came from west of Sherman Blvd just before we went on the air at 9p.— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) August 16, 2016
The unrest in the city began when a police officer fatally shot Sylville Smith, a 23-year-old black man.
According to the Milwaukee Police Department, Smith was armed when the incident took place. Police have not identified the officer who shot Smith, but they have revealed that the officer is also black.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) activated the National Guard after riots in the city and called for “continued peace and prayer.”
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