Videojournalist for Brazilian broadcaster assaulted during ‘Million MAGA March’ in DC

November 14, 2020

Daniel Silva-Pinto, a videojournalist on assignment for Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo, was assaulted while covering what organizers called the “Million MAGA March,” a gathering of various far-right groups, on Nov. 14, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

The rally was held in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s failed reelection bid, a loss that the president and his supporters claimed — without evidence — was the result of widespread election fraud.

Things were mostly peaceful in the nation’s capital for much of Nov. 14, but fights broke out between Trump supporters and counterprotesters as the day wore on, according to the Washington Post.

Silva-Pinto told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he’d been filming the march on Constitution Avenue when some members of what he identified as part of the far-right group the Proud Boys arrived at around 2 or 3 p.m. Silva-Pinto told the Tracker he’d been wearing a press badge at the time and was carrying his DSLR camera.

“When I got closer to Congress on Constitution, I started to hear a commotion, and then I saw that it was a ton of men dressed in black and yellow: clearly members of the Proud Boys,” Silva-Pinto said. “They were walking sort of arm-in-arm in a phalanx.”

“I was in a semicircle with six or seven other photojournalists and videojournalists when these guys were walking down the street and they started to get pretty aggressive with the people who were nearest them and they started pushing us.”

He said that members of the Proud Boys appeared to be elbowing and pushing the group of journalists more to annoy them than to inflict harm.

“Journalists started sort of talking back to them, saying things like, ‘Hey, don’t do that. I’m just here trying to do my job,’” Silva-Pinto said. He said he could not identify the other journalists there that day who may have also been assaulted during the incident.

“Then, I felt my camera get grabbed and I was hit in my head from my blind side or behind me, and I turned around and saw that it was one of the guys who had been pushing me,” Silva-Pinto said.

He told the Tracker that he walked a short distance away from the group for a bit, and when he returned, he was assaulted by a second individual.

“Another one of those guys grabbed my camera to lower it and then started hitting me in the face,” Silva-Pinto said. “They punched me several times.”

In a video captured by Ostap Yarysh, a reporter for Voice of America’s Ukrainian service, individuals dressed in black and yellow, colors often associated with the group, aand other Proud Boys symbols can be heard chanting, “The media sucks!” At one point, one of the individuals can be seen striking out at Silva-Pinto and punching him multiple times in the face. Another individual then approaches Silva-Pinto, saying, “Back the fuck up. Get the fuck out of here.”

Silva-Pinto can be heard responding, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Why are you hitting me?”

“That was new for me,” Silva-Pinto said. “Like I’ve said, I’ve covered a lot of stuff and people have been hostile toward me and other members of the press before. But that was certainly unexpected, given it was daytime, there were a bunch of police officers around, it was near the Capitol, and there were children and families around.”

Silva-Pinto told the Tracker that he approached a Metropolitan Police Department officer following the assault to file a police report. He said he had not received any updates from the police and that his last contact with the detective on his case was on Dec. 15.

The MPD did not respond to an emailed request for comment from the Tracker as of press time.

Silva-Pinto said he also sought medical attention from a volunteer medic who was with counterprotesters that day to confirm that he did not have a concussion.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented hundreds journalists assaulted, arrested, harassed or who had their equipment seized or damaged while covering the 2020 election and related protests. You can find all these incidents here.

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

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