Amid the chaos at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, as supporters of President Donald Trump breached the premises in an attempt to stop the Electoral College votes from being counted, an independent photojournalist was assaulted by a man who has yet to be identified.
The incident happened around 4:45 p.m. near the Russell Senate Office Building, which is located along Constitution Ave. N.E.
Douglas Christian, who has worked as a White House radio pool journalist and has been published by the Baltimore Post-Examiner, said he was talking to angry Trump supporters who started to scream at him, saying liberals and Democrats deserve to be charged with “treason and hanged.”
The anger toward the media was on display Wednesday. Someone scratched: “Murder the Media” on one of the Capitol doors. Several other journalists reported they were chased by an angry mob and some had their camera equipment destroyed.
Similar things happened to Christian.
Christian said one of the president’s supporters tried to grab his press credential. “I told him that’s assault,” but the Trump supporter continued to argue and claw at the credential.
After breaking free from the man and the group, he told them to leave him alone. Christian began to leave the Capitol complex when another man began shouting obscenities and conspiracy theories. Christian ignored the man but was nevertheless pursued on foot.
Then it happened.
“He just punched me straight on right in the face,” Christian told MarylandReporter.com on Thursday. “The crazy thing is that it hurt so much. But the weird thing is it didn’t hurt in front of my face where he punched me. My glasses went flying.”
He described it as a “sucker punch” by a man who was upset that a photographer would be taking photos of the crowd. Christian said he is in still pain.
“I’m thinking to myself. This is an internal hemorrhage maybe. That’s what is going through my head,” he said. “And I’m thinking, what do I do? How do I survive this? And I don’t remember what happened at that precise moment but I knew I just had to get away.”
Christian said as he was leaving the area where the incident took place when he saw a police officer and relayed what had just happened to him but that the officer did not provide assistance.
“The attacker was following and taunting me and I’m just like: ‘Get away, Get away!’ And as I got up to the cop he (the man) crossed the street and started attacking other people. And I told the policeman, I believe it was the Capitol Police: ‘He (the man) just punched me in the face.’ And he (the officer) didn’t respond,” Christian said. “He didn’t say anything. He didn’t even acknowledge that I had just said that to him.”
Christian said he was subsequently scolded by a Capitol Hill staffer for bothering the officer.
“This staffer from Russell came out and he said: ‘You’re distracting the officer. He can’t do anything about the guy who is assaulting other people.”
Christian said he told the staffer that he just been assaulted and the staffer did not react. Nor did the officer, according to Christian, who then departed to Union Station to go home. It is not clear if there was an order for police to stand down.
A few dozen people were arrested and one woman was fatally shot and three others died during the riot due to medical reasons, DC police said.
Christian described his attacker as a white male who wore camouflage and is between the ages of 35-40 and has short hair and stands about 5 feet 6 inches tall. He said he could pick him out of a photograph if he saw him again.
Christian said he planned to go to the doctor today. He contacted the police when he got home to file a police report and is still waiting for the police to respond.