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Virginia GOP nominee claims to be victim in violent arrest of reporter covering his campaign

On Saturday, Shareblue Media reporter Mike Stark was violently tackled by six police officers, forced to the ground, and arrested while filming Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie’s vehicle at the annual Annandale parade. Stark was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, although video footage makes clear he did neither of those things. The officers claim […]

By Matthew Chapman - November 01, 2017
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Ed Gillespie, Republican nominee for Virginia governor
Ed Gillespie, Republican nominee for Virginia governor

On Saturday, Shareblue Media reporter Mike Stark was violently tackled by six police officers, forced to the ground, and arrested while filming Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie’s vehicle at the annual Annandale parade.

Stark was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, although video footage makes clear he did neither of those things. The officers claim that it was a crime for Stark to say “f— this.”

So far, Gillespie and his campaign have refused to release a public statement. But on Tuesday evening, a local TV reporter at WRC-DC said that Gillespie’s office told them this:

Take a look at this picture. It shows a reporter being arrested for getting too close to one of the men hoping to be Virginia’s next governor. Ed Gillespie’s campaign says reporter Mike Stark was too close to their candidate. Gillespie is a Republican running for governor. Stark, who works for Shareblue Media, claims the arrest was violent. Police charged him with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Gillespie’s complaint is belied by the video footage, which shows Stark was nowhere near Gillespie’s vehicle. In fact, Stark was filming from 20 yards away.

For the past few weeks, Stark has diligently attended Gillespie’s campaign events and asked him various questions about his policies, views, and record — standard questions for a gubernatorial candidate — which Gillespie has repeatedly dodged and fled.

Gillespie’s campaign manager demanded Stark be barred from the University of Virginia-Wise debate, even though he had proper credentials. Moreover, the officer who initially approached Stark on Saturday was accompanied by a woman who had objected to his presence at another Gillespie event the night before.

Stark is not alone. As questions swirl about Gillespie’s overt pandering to white supremacy and his work as a lobbyist for big banks and big tobacco, he has displayed a pattern of secrecy and defensiveness toward other journalists trying to cover him. One exception was his recent appearance on Fox News to complain that a political ad against him was too mean.

Nevertheless, a responsible candidate for office would not want to create even the appearance of endorsing violence against journalists.

The fact that Gillespie’s only response is to complain that Stark should not have been filming him at best speaks to a sense of entitlement and lack of respect for the free press — and at worst, makes him look complicit in the assault.

Donald Trump has put a target on journalists’ backs with his constant attacks and threats. Gillespie — though he pretends to distance himself from Trump — seems to share this impulse.


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