Two conservative journalists claim they were “held hostage in their car” by an angry mob inside the Dakota Access Pipeline protest campsite and were blocked from leaving and threatened for 30 minutes.
Phelim McAleer and Magdalena Segieda, both investigative journalists known for their film FrackNation, the verbatim play FERGUSON, and the upcoming feature about serial abortionist Kermit Gosnell, described the harrowing scene in an e-mail on Wednesday.
“Protestors threatened to slash tires, break into the car, seize filming equipment,” it stated. “Journalists were trapped in their car until massive police presence led to their release.”
From the e-mail:
It started with one protestor grabbing McAleer's microphone mid-question and physically assaulting him.
Others joined the attack forcing McAleer and his colleagues to flee to their car intending to leave the protest camp.
However the car quickly became surrounded by a mob with a pack of dogs and sticks who also used three vehicles to block in the journalists preventing them from leaving the camp.
The mob became increasingly violent ordering the journalists out of their car warning of the consequences of refusing to get out.
At one point protestors started to shake the car and punched the windows. They also stated they were going to destroy the film equipment and any footage gathered.
Fearing for their lives, the journalists contacted police who sent in air support and a SWAT team. Once officers arrived on the scene, McAleer and his partner were able to drive away.
“It was a terrifying 30 minutes,” the documentary filmmaker said. "There is a lot of talk about love and peace at the camp but yesterday we got a look at the reality behind the talk and it was an ugly violent reality.”
McAleer noticed the shift in attitude once he started asking difficult questions “about how the protestors were against oil and pipelines but used oil based products (cars & plastic) in their campaign.”
“We were just doing our job and [were] met with incredible aggression,” Segieda said. “It was the scariest 30 minutes of my life. If the police didn't arrive, I'm not sure if we would have made it out of there and certainly not with our footage.”
"This sends a chilling message to journalists covering the Dakota Access Pipeline story,” McAleer added. “The message is you can only ask softball questions. If you ask difficult questions you will be met with violence and intimidation."
McAleer is noted for covering The Troubles in Northern Ireland and said this incident was “one of the most terrifying situations” he has encountered during his career.
The filmmakers plan to release footage in the coming days.