U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Protesters attack independent livestreamer in San Francisco, steal his phone

Incident Details


A screenshot from Ruptly's livestream shows anti-fascist protesters wrapping independent livestreamer Nathan Stolpman in a banner after stealing his phone.

— Ruptly
August 26, 2017

Nathan Stolpman, an independent journalist who runs the YouTube channel Lift the Veil Too, was attacked and had his phone stolen while filming an anti-fascist protest on Aug. 26, 2017, in San Francisco, California.

In an interview with the Freedom of the Press Foundation, Stolpman said that he was livestreaming the protest to his YouTube channel when several protesters attempted to block his camera with an umbrella. Stolpman continued his livestream, telling the protesters, “I’m just a journalist, I have a YouTube channel.”

The livestream posted on the Lift the Veil Too YouTube channel shows one person present at the protest asking Stolpman why he was wearing a polo shirt, stating that “polos are on the other side.” Stolpman asked protesters why they did not want coverage of the event, and a larger group of protesters began to chant “Nazi, go home.”

As Stolpman continued to livestream, the group of protesters — holding a large black banner with “Fascist Scum You Are Done” written on it — followed him and wrapped him in the banner, restricting his ability to move.

Ruptly, a livestreaming service owned by Russian broadcaster RT, captured footage of Stolpman’s encounter with the protesters. The video published by Ruptly shows a masked protester quickly approach Stolpman, who is largely covered by the black banner, and then grab Stolpman’s phone and run off.

Video of protesters stealing Nathan Stolpman's phone


After the altercation, Stolpman was interviewed about what happened by several outlets. As he answered a question, one protester wearing a red nose stroked his hair, while other protesters off camera yelled and denounced the media outlets interviewing him for “giving the fascist a camera.”

A video filmed by Brian Neumann, a student journalist at San Francisco State University, shows Stolpman arguing with protesters and asking for his phone back.

Stolpman told the Freedom of the Press Foundation that he believes he was targeted because he was livestreaming and because of his clothing. He said that his phone was never returned to him.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].