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Gold Star family members say they were attacked by protesters outside inaugural ball

Ryan Manion, left, and Amy Looney (Image source: WTXF-TV)

Two Gold Star family members claim they were attacked Friday night by protesters outside the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the American Legion Salute to Heroes Inaugural Gala was held.

According to a Facebook post about the ordeal, Ryan Manion, who lost her brother in Iraq in 2007, and Amy Looney, whose husband died in Afghanistan in 2010, were spat on by demonstrators protesting President Donald Trump.

"As we made our way through the crowd we were spit at and called some of the worst and most vile things I have ever heard come out of a person's mouth," Manion wrote of when they arrived at the ball. "These people had such hatred in their eyes when they screamed at us."

And she said it happened again when they left the event:

[W]e walked outside and was [sic] first pushed by a man in a mask hiding his face, then told by 2 women that we ruined this country. They screamed this in our faces along as in the face of a little boy that could have been no older then 6. As the one woman screamed the other pushed up against me and colored all over my mom's shawl I was wearing with permanent marker. I am angry and I am scared. My brother and Amy's husband gave their lives to protect the freedoms that we hold so dear.

CNN contributor Mary Katharine Ham, one of Manion's personal friends, discussed the alleged attack Monday with Jake Tapper, host of "The Lead." Ham noted that the ball the Gold Star family members were attending was hosted by the American Legion, a nonpartisan organization.

"I don’t think this characterizes the march and the movement that we saw out here today," Ham said, referring to the Women's March over the weekend, later adding:

[B]ut this is part of the story, as is Madonna saying she thinks about blowing up the White House. Those are not great things. If it were a conservative movement, we would hear a lot about it. If you don’t think that the left has some prejudices of its own that can lead it very astray like it did last night in that instance, then you’re wrong. And if you think that that’s not part of the reason many turned to Trump, then you’re also wrong.

In an interview with WTXF-TV, Manion said she was most taken aback by the "hate in these people's eyes," adding later, "I think it's a defining moment in our country. We are divided but I think it's our differences that make our country so great and if we can't unite in our differences we're in a really bad place."

While the incident has earned little-to-no mainstream media coverage, Manion published an op-ed about it in the Philadelphia Inquirer, explaining that she and Looney "did not attend the Inaugural Ball as a political statement."

She wrote that they both keep their political opinions private and will "support the current administration exactly like we supported the previous administration and just like we will support every future administration that the American people elect."

"I envision an America that values character above all else," she wrote. "Where integrity is more important than celebrity. Where acts of service and kindness permeate the nightly news. Where communities unite together to raise each other up."

"I have friends who I love dearly on both sides of the political aisle," she continued. "Let's celebrate the differences that not only define us, but define what makes the United States of America the greatest country in the world."

Manion serves as president of the Travis Manion Foundation, which was founded by Manion's mother and advocates on behalf of veterans and Gold Star families to ensure they receive the care they need.

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