A Fox News reporter who was chased and harassed by a mob of protesters early Saturday morning in Washington, D.C. described the incident as “the scariest situation” he’s been in since he reported on the Arab Spring protests in Egypt.
Leland Vittert was on the ground in Lafayette Park, D.C. covering protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. Just before 1 a.m., Vittert and his crew were accosted and chased out of the area by protesters, footage captured by the Daily Caller News Foundation shows. (RELATED: CNN Correspondent Arrested Live On-Air During Minneapolis Riots)
“This was the scariest situation I’ve been in since I got chased out of Tahrir Square by a mob, and this was equally scary,” Vittert said according to Fox News, citing his coverage of the 2011 Arab Spring. “We were very clearly on our own, and in that situation, you just don’t know how things are going to play out.”
Vittert was accompanied by cameraman Christian Galdabini and two security staffers, Fox News reported. The network said that one of the security members “was punched in the face and knocked to the ground.” The group found a police car a few blocks away after being chased out of Lafayette Park, but the officer refused to leave his car, according to Fox News.
“But Vittert said the cop at the wheel refused to get out of the squad car, even as he frantically pounded on the window, surrounded by the hostile mob,” Fox reported. “Galdabini, who has covered violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the officer appeared to radio for reinforcements, and riot police soon showed up to restore some semblance of order.”
Galdabini said his camera was almost stolen and he was hit with water and other objects. He called the situation “a wild one,” according to Fox News.
“In the park, you could feel the mob mentality taking over. There were no cops anywhere. There was nobody there to keep things calm and it got out of hand,” Galdabini added.
Vittert said he gives “a lot of credit” to the security team that accompanied them during the reporting.
“I’m also grateful that the Daily Caller and some of the other organizations were able to follow the mob and document it. I really appreciate that they had our backs,” the veteran journalist added.
Fox News issued a statement following the incident noting that they “strongly condemn these actions.” The network also condemned all actions against reporters in general, including the arrest of a CNN correspondent in Minneapolis Friday.
Statement from Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott on journalist Leland Vittert and crew being confronted by violent protesters last night in D.C. – pic.twitter.com/b4qRvD0Nmi
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) May 30, 2020