Update: None of my calls from Q13 Fox have been returned. Coincidentally, I’ve since learned that its last¬†news director resigned over failing to turn over video of police brutality. This may be an indication of the prevailing corporate culture over at Fox.

My six hours of signature gathering at Westlake Park were almost entirely peaceful until Q13 Fox’s James Lynch and his cameraman came up to me in Westlake Park and started interfering with my signature gathering and yelling at me. I had just explained the initiative to a citizen who was beginning to fill out the petition when Lynch got in between us, and interrupted, “What’s this? What’s this? What’s this?” and began pushing on my clipboards, driving off the citizen. That’s when he and his cameraman got right in my face and began yelling at me. Lynch yelled at me for several minutes. The cameraman kept pushing on me and my clipboards repeatedly and asking me if I wanted to fight. I asked them several times to identify which news station they were from and they refused. As Lynch continued to yell at me, I looked to my right and to my left to see if the police were still nearby – and unfortunately, they were not. For many hours, the police had filled the park, gang units, bike cops, horse-mounted cops, baton-carrying cops, but not at this moment. Their tirade went on for several minutes.

What precipitated this was me walking through the Q13 liveshot on Pine Street a few minutes earlier showing off my I103.org t-shirt and flyers. They were filming in the middle of Pine Street and I was purposely using the opportunity to stand in a public place and get our I103 message out over the public airwaves. I was probably on camera about 10 to 20 seconds max. These guys came to the center of the MayDay rally to film a public festival from the middle of a public street … they should not have been surprised if someone actually tried to get on camera. I am certain my actions were annoying to them. My actions might even have been obnoxious (I’d have to see the clip). But these two clearly lost their cool and lost any semblance of professionalism when they decided to find me in Westlake Park and yell at me, get in my face, bully and try to intimidate me.

When they began accosting me, it took me a little bit of time to realize who they even were as I had no idea why these people were angry at me. At first, I thought they just didn’t like Initiative 103 and were trying to intimidate me or vandalize my petitions.

Once I realized who they were, I asked Lynch and his cameraman several times to identify which station they were with and they repeatedly refused.

I believe that they committed what’s called a Fourth Degree assault in Washington State. Fourth degree assault occurs when you act with “intention to create¬†reasonable apprehension & fear of bodily harm. It does not matter that you did not actually intend to inflict harm or did not have the ability to actually cause the harm. Or, if you intentionally touch another person in a way that is not legally consented to nor privileged and is either harmful or offensive, regardless of whether physical harm results.” The two of them converging on me together is more serious than if just one of them had come up to me.

A couple of weeks ago, I was yelled at by a person at the Ballard Market while gathering signatures. The person was actually upset about corporate power and taking it out on me. While he was agitated and loud, he did not get up close to me, he did not make physical contact, he was mostly just letting off steam. But, this was different. Lynch and his cameraman found me in the park to bully and intimidate me. They made repeated physical contact with me.

The content of their tirade at me was that I had interfered with their work now they wanted me to see what it was like to have someone interfere with my work. The irony of this is that I’m actually a volunteer for I103.

I finally demanded Lynch identify himself to me and he ultimately gave me a business card, sort of defiantly. If not for this, I might not have been able to determine who these guys were.

I’ve made three attempts to reach station managers and report this to Q13 Fox management but so far my messages have not been returned.

As a survivor of years of childhood physical abuse, I take these kinds of events quite seriously and believe strongly that they should be reported. I am contemplating filing a police report.

Luckily no one was hurt in this case, but there’s simply no place in Seattle for the media to be chasing down citizens that get in their live shots and bullying and assaulting them.

It’s ironic to me that my entire day at Westlake was otherwise mostly peaceful. I witnessed one brief fight that was quickly broken up and other than that the militarized police presence (not around when needed) were the most disturbing aspects of the day – aside from my altercation with Q13’s team.

Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest.

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