- President Donald Trump reposted a video of a journalist being hounded by anti-lockdown protesters in Long Island, New York, calling them “great people.”
- The video, posted by News 12 Long Island reporter Kevin Vesey, shows protestors angrily confronting him, asking him to leave and shouting: “You are the virus.”
- Vesey followed up on Twitter, saying he will “never forget what happened today” and that he felt was “insulted” and “berated.”
- The pro-Trump group who organized the rally later apologized for the incident on Facebook, saying that the angry protesters that confronted the journalist “are not members or affiliated” with them.
- In recent weeks, Trump has been seen throwing his support behind anti-lockdown protesters and has continued to express anti-press sentiments.
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President Donald Trump reposted a video of a reporter being hounded by angry anti-lockdown protesters in New York, calling the demonstrators “great people.”
The president tweeted the video on Saturday morning, commenting: “People can’t get enough of this. Great people”
People can’t get enough of this. Great people! https://t.co/b4HM0C298h
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2020
The video was posted to Twitter by Kevin Vesey, a reporter with News 12 Long Island, who was reporting on an anti-lockdown demonstration organized by a pro-Trump group called the Setauket Patriots in Commack, Long Island on May 14.
The journalist was met with hostility as protesters started aggressively shouting and jeering at him while he walked past, recording his report on Facebook Live. One woman confronts Vesey, shouting, “You are disgusting. You are the virus”, while another woman says in the background: “You are the enemy of the people.”
At one point, an unmasked protester wearing a red Make America Great Again hat follows and taunts the reporter as he tries to keep six feet between them.
“I think you need to back away from me, sir,” Vesey said from behind the camera.
“No, I’ve got hydroxychloroquine, I’m fine,” the man answered – a reference to the anti-malaria drug President Trump promoted in the early weeks of the pandemic.
Watch the video below.
I'll probably never forget what happened today.
I was insulted. I was berated. I was practically chased by people who refused to wear masks in the middle of a pandemic.
All the while, I was there to tell THEIR story. Here's the finished product. pic.twitter.com/HV2Hrcs7gi
— Kevin Vesey (@KevinVesey) May 14, 2020
After the video racked up thousands of likes on social media, Vesey followed up by saying: “I’ll probably never forget what happened today. I was insulted. I was berated. I was practically chased by people who refused to wear masks in the middle of a pandemic. All the while, I was there to tell THEIR story.”
The group has since apologized for the actions. In a statement posted to their Facebook page, they wrote: “Kevin, The Setauket Patriots group, would like to apologize on how you were treated. We can tell you that the few who decided to Harass you and try to prevent you from doing your job are not members or affiliated with the Setauket patriots group in any way, shape, or form,” according to Newsweek.
“We were looking forward to you giving us fair coverage with what you documented when we first arrived. But as with all mass rally events, you will always get a few idiots to disrupt an otherwise peaceful, pleasant demonstration and they should have been removed by Police,” they added.
Vesey later posted his edited news segment of the protests on social media.
This was my story that aired on TV today — a recap of yesterday's events, and what's happened since. pic.twitter.com/cfGrBYiLGJ
— Kevin Vesey (@KevinVesey) May 15, 2020
Trump’s anti-press sentiments on Twitter echoed his ongoing attacks against the media. Earlier this week, the president stormed off in a news briefing after two female reporters challenged him on his remarks about China. He has also called reporter’s questions about his pandemic response “nasty.”
Trump has also thrown his support behind the anti-lockdown protesters, previously describing armed protesters in Michigan as “very good people.”
Many of the US anti-lockdown protesters display flags, signs, MAGA hats, and t-shirts promoting Trump’s reelection campaign.
The demonstrations in Long Island came as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended stay-at-home orders to June 13, allowing some regions of the state to begin the first phase of reopening.