While covering Occupy DC’s protest of Americans for Prosperity’s “Defending the American Dream Summit” Friday night at the Washington Convention Center, Daily Caller video reporter Michelle Fields was verbally harassed throughout the evening. In an interview, she tells TheDC about how she felt threatened and how the Occupy DC mob looked anything but impoverished.
What were the protesters protesting?
Occupy DC was at a summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity protesting corporate greed. They targeted the individuals at the event by blocking off all of the exits of the building so that no one could leave and blocked off all intersections around the convention center so that no cars could pass through. It seemed as though most people at the event caught cabs back home, so the people who were hurt the most by the blocked intersections were DC residents — not the people from the AFP event.
Were you afraid they would become physically violent with you? Did they threaten you with violence?
A very large group of male protesters began to surround me and chant “F— Michelle Fields” while others screamed in my face for working at The Daily Caller and being a “right wing extremist.” There were very few female protesters, but they were civil towards me. All of the people who harassed me were male protesters. At one point someone threw water at me so I immediately went to speak to a police officer who then spoke to some of the protesters individually about their behavior. Although the police officer tried to control the situation, the individuals continued to harass me throughout the evening.
Occupy DC assigned someone to follow me around the entire evening with a camera documenting my every move. He was always a few steps behind me harassing and filming me. I was only able to interview a handful of people last night because Occupy DC protesters would jump in front of my camera and interrupt the interview.
Did any of the protesters try to calm the others down and get them to behave civilly?
Occupy DC was only concerned with trying to get other protesters to behave civilly when The Daily Caller camera was around. If my camerawoman and I were around when someone was doing something that was clearly illegal and out of control, Occupy DC would start screaming “Stop! Daily Caller is right behind you. They’re going to get it on camera.”
Did they seem to have a coherent message?
They had no coherent message, other than to make sure Charles Koch and his friends didn’t get out of the building.
Were they blocking all traffic or just fancy cars?
Occupy DC only allowed non-luxury cars and government buses to pass through. At one point an African American man came by in an SUV and pleaded with the protesters to let him and his 2 year old son get through so they could go home. One of the protesters shouted: “Sorry, but you have no power right now and your son can’t save you.”
How many protesters do you think there were?
A couple hundred
What was the demographic make up the protesters as far as you could tell? Did they seem particularly impoverished or did they seem just to be political radicals? Did you get the sense these were all Occupy DC people or were there activists from elsewhere as well?
Most of the protesters were rowdy young men with either an iPhone, Blackberry, or expensive DSLR camera in their hands.
Many of the protesters were recording from iPhones and iPads. I’m not sure I would consider someone with an iPhone, iPad, and Mac computer to be impoverished.