Christian Hartsock, a conservative journalist and filmmaker, says he was assaulted and beaten down to the ground by a mob with repeated strikes to the face while reporting at a Trayvon Martin rally in downtown Oakland Sunday night.
“I have interviews and I have footage of [Trayvon protestors] chanting ‘no justice, no peace—fuck you pigs in your sleep,’” Hartsock told The Daily Caller. “One of them was an elementary schooler chanting with his mom.”
Hartsock says he arrived at 9:30 PM to film the rally.
But soon after, he was repeatedly told by two men to leave the public area. When he refused, they became belligerent, Hartsock told TheDC.
“After retreating to a corner to catch B-roll, two young men approached me and interrogated me as to what I was doing there,” recalls Hartsock. “I advised them I was just there to see what was going on. They told me to get out. I asked why, which only afforded more threats. I declined their request to leave, they continued marching.”
A flag burns during a protest after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, early Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. Protesters angered by the acquittal Zimmerman held largely peaceful demonstrations in three California cities, but broke windows and started small street fires in Oakland, police said. (AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, Anda Chu)
Hartsock continued, “The two young men came back up to me and told me to leave. I told them ‘no’ and asked them what their issue was. Then other ralliers, noticing the two young men’s belligerence toward me, assumed I must have been up to something, so they began to approach me too and ask me what my problem was. I explained that I didn’t have a problem and didn’t know why I was being suddenly questioned. Within seconds there was an entire circle around me, threats being leveled from every direction.”
“One young man chanted ‘There’s gonna be some violence tonight!’” Hartsock said. “He then came up to me and demanded I erase the footage from my phone — another request I declined.”
“As two other young men interrogated me, their friend behind them came up and a young man then slugged me in the face about three times — hard — and demanded that I leave,” Hartsock said. “Then I began getting clocked by others in my left temple and jaw by other assailants and was mowed to the ground by about half a dozen of them.”
Hartsock feared the worst. “For a couple minutes I was pinned down to the ground — one gentleman on top of me slugging me across the face repeatedly as an indeterminable number of others kicked me in the side of the head, and tried to get my phone out of my hand… The harder my grip tightened, the harder their punches to my face became,” he said.
(Photo courtesy Christian Hartsock)
Hartsock “[e]ventually fought them off before they could get my camera, wallet and keys.” Hartsock, who has filed a police report, was surprised that neither the media, nor the police seemed to be attentive. “My video didn’t capture the assault but the mob was trying to jack my camera and my wallet and keys.”
An ABC News van, parked within view of the incident, failed to record the assault, Hartsock said.
“ABC news van less than 20 feet away, got NONE of it. Yeah, this is why we have to do you guys’ jobs for you and get paid in blood,” wrote Hartsock on Facebook. “My face is swollen and I have a huge black eye.”
“I fought them off somehow—it was kind of miraculous,” Hartsock said.
When he asked why the TV news crew got none of it on camera, they responded by recording Hartsock talking to a police officer. ABC Channel 7 News aired that footage and Hartsock’s allegations on Sunday night’s newscast.
Hartsock says he doesn’t see a racial angle at play in his assault. “Some of my assailants were white. Some black, some mixed race. There were civilized people there who were black and very kind to me at first.”
“I had no problems with anyone until two thugs came up to me and gave me shit,” he said. “Others got involved simply because they saw two thugs giving me shit and immediately [started] taking their side,” he said.
“It turned into a Domino effect,” says Hartsock. “It didn’t matter what I had to say. Everyone decided the thing now was to pile up on me.”