Vishal Singh, a videographer who works on Netflix documentaries and has been covering demonstrations in Los Angeles since May 2020, was pushed and his phone knocked out of his hands as he documented clashing demonstrations in El Cajon, California, on July 25, 2021, he told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported far-right demonstrators had gathered in the San Diego suburb to attend the “We Are Israel” rally at which former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder were scheduled to speak. Singh told the Tracker that he began reporting that day shortly before 3 p.m. at a nearby park where counterprotesters were gathering ahead of a planned march to the rally.
Singh said that around 4 p.m. the marchers had made it to approximately a block away from the Prescott Promenade, where the rally was taking place, when they ran into a group of far-right demonstrators standing around a barricade.
“There was pretty much immediately a clash between the two sides,” Singh said, “and I was one of the first people assaulted.”
Singh told the Tracker that an individual came forward from the barricade and attempted to push him and grab his press badge, but Singh was able to deflect him and told the man not to touch him. In footage Singh posted to Twitter, the clip begins with the man approaching him. At 0:33 in the footage, the individual can be seen deliberately knocking the phone out of independent journalist Tina-Desiree Berg’s hands before returning to where Singh is filming and deliberately knocking the phone from his hands as well.
Singh told the Tracker that his phone may have sustained additional damage, but the screen was already cracked from an incident on July 17.
After the clashes continued, Singh said, a far-right demonstrator walked up to the counterprotesters and sprayed a chemical irritant at them. “And then he turned around to me, chased me and bear maced me,” Singh said.
Singh said he hasn’t yet filed a police report about the assaults.