A journalist wrote in a piece published in Politico Tuesday that he was “attacked — and spared — because of my race” while he covered a recent Black Lives Matter protest in Milwaukee.
A gas station stands in ruins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Aug. 15 after police in the Midwestern city faced off with protesters Aug. 13-14 following the shooting death of 23-year-old Sylville Smith, who officials say was armed. (Cengiz Yar/AFP/Getty Images)
Aaron Mak, who was an intern for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote that he was sent to cover protests sparked by the death of Sylville Smith as “my last assignment for the summer.”
Mak, who identifies as Chinese-American, wrote that he was assured by a source that he would be safe at the protest because “you’re a minority, too.”
That wasn’t the case for long.
“By nightfall, I was crouching behind a Chevy Suburban to avoid bullets,” Mak wrote:
Another intern, a white man who had arrived later on to take photos, huddled beside me. After the gunfire ceased, he emerged from behind the car to take more pictures while I stayed behind.
“Get your white ass out of here!” he soon heard. “You better not let me f***ing catch you!”
Mak wrote that he tried unsuccessfully to defuse the situation, and a group of men began to chase his colleague down the street:
Wanting to help, but not knowing how, I decided to run after them. In order to run faster, my colleague dropped the two bulky cameras hanging around his neck. When I tried to retrieve them, and yelled at him to get out of the area, some in the group of rioters started chasing after me too.
"As a former back-of-the-pack runner in middle school gym class, I wasn’t surprised when they caught me," he added. "When they threw me to the ground, I reflexively curled up into a ball. Blows landed on my back, head and torso.”
Mak wrote that the beating stopped when someone yelled, “Stop! He’s not white! He’s Asian!”
“As my vision came back into focus, I saw a group of concerned black faces and heard someone repeating, ‘Don’t f*** with Chinese dudes,’” he wrote. “My attackers had run off. Those who had intervened escorted me to safety.”
He wrote that “while I don’t condone the attacks on my Journal Sentinel colleague and me, I don’t think our experience represents the movement overall.”
“I wanted to move on to talk about the many African-Americans who stopped my attackers, who got me to safety and who may very well have saved me from more serious injuries,” Mak wrote.
Read the full account here.
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