WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sunday at the counter-protest against “Unite the Right,” a woman affiliated with the New Black Panther Party in a black bandana mask yelled at the police for separating the roughly 24 white nationalists from the upwards of a thousand protesters on the other side. When I approached her to hear what her message to the police would be, the woman said she would have no message and her friend knocked my phone out of my hand.
“You’re a disgrace! Why are you protecting white supremacists?” the woman yelled, in an incident I failed to capture on camera. Intrigued, I walked back a few paces to speak with her, intent on hearing why this woman did not want the cops to maintain the peace.
Throughout American history, police have separated Ku Klux Klansmen from liberal protesters — most notably in the Vietnam War protests, as PJ Media’s Jack Dunphy noted. He recalled an event in the late 1960s, when the police formed a shield wall between the anti-war protesters and the KKK mob.
Tragically, police failed to do this in Charlottesville, Va., last year. For this reason, the violence got worse than it should have. While a stronger police presence may not have prevented the tragic death of Heather Heyer at the hands of a white nationalist driver, it could have made that devastating event far less brutal.
In Washington, D.C., on Sunday, police were out in force. They did their due diligence, separating the hateful “Unite the Right” marchers from the dangerous hordes of counter-protesters, which included many Black Lives Matter and antifa activists, who hid their faces with masks.
When I approached the woman to ask her what message she would give to the police, the Black Panther responded, “I don’t have a message.” This was clearly untrue, as she had loudly shouted at the very police who intended to keep her safe. Her masked friend proceeded to knock my phone out of my hand, declaring, “anti-imperialism!”
After retrieving my phone and returning to the discussion, the woman repeated “anti-imperialism!” and again knocked my phone out of my hand, causing it to fall a good 5 feet away, into the grass. “People don’t want to be filmed, move!” one of the women declared. To honor their wishes, I have blurred the faces on the video.
Later, the woman added, “I said move!”
Exasperated, I responded, “Everyone’s yelling.”
Interrupting me, the Black Panther said, “So yell that way,” pointing to the area where “Unite the Right” was, defended by the police. “So yell at the cops. Yell at the antifa—the fascists.”
I responded, “Why should I yell at the cops?”
“Why wouldn’t you?” she retorted. “What are you here for then? What the f**k are you here for?” I explained that I was there to cover the event, and noted that the police were dividing the antifa, Black Lives Matter, and other counter-protesters from “Unite the Right,” which is their job, to keep the peace and allow for free speech.
The woman echoed Black Lives Matter talking points, responding, “Don’t tell me about the police because I can tell you about brutality, and people getting murdered.” While some police have indeed abused their authority and unjustly killed black people, these horrific incidents have thankfully been few and far between. Many shootings cited by Black Lives Matter have been justified, and police tragically die in the line of duty all the time.
Police are a key force to maintain the peace, and they did their jobs excellently on Sunday. Furthermore, this woman was yelling at the police for doing their job — for protecting both antifa and “Unite the Right,” who should be able to express their opinions (hateful as they may be) in peace, protected by the First Amendment.
Tragically, the woman who yelled at the cops was not the only person who questioned whether or not I should be at the event. Shortly after this altercation, another woman turned to me and asked, “Are you a Nazi?”
This small event paled in comparison to what the counter-protesters did to a poor woman from Capital Heights, Md. Suzanne Monk attended the rally to protest against “Unite the Right,” and she held a sign reading “No Kessler, No Antifa, No political violence.”
Even so, an angry crowd formed around her, chanting, “No free speech for racists!” because she wore a helmet with a “Trump-Pence” sticker. The crowd drowned her out, ripped her sign away from her, and glitter-bombed her in an attempt to humiliate her without resorting to violence.
Many protesters told me that they respect free speech. The Black Panther woman who knocked my phone out of my hand and the mobs that silenced the Trump supporter may be an aggressive radical fringe of the movement, but they are out there and they deserve to be called out.
Correction: The original version of this article described the woman as a member of antifa, when in reality her black clothing (and lack of red), along with the insignia on her hat, revealed her as a New Black Panther.