Shareblue Media reporter Mike Stark has been harassed, ejected from public events, and prevented from covering Republican Ed Gillespie's campaign for governor of Virginia. Then he was thrown to the ground and handcuffed by six police officers.
After months of being harassed by Ed Gillespie’s campaign for simply trying to ask the Republican gubernatorial nominee questions, Shareblue Media reporter Mike Stark was violently arrested Saturday while filming the annual Annandale parade.
Gillespie has repeatedly dodged questions from Stark about his increasingly racist campaign, uncomfortable endorsement from Donald Trump, and his use of his position in the Bush White House to do the bidding of his corporate lobbying clients.
The evasion came to a head when Stark stood filming Gillespie’s campaign vehicle as it pulled up to the Annandale parade.
A Fairfax County Mason District police officer demanded that Stark cease filming the vehicle and move back farther than the 20-yard distance already separating him from the vehicle. He was accompanied by a woman who had raised an objection to Stark’s presence at a Gillespie campaign event just the evening prior.
After a brief back and forth, during which the police officer made clear that Stark would not be able to ask the gubernatorial candidate any questions at the public campaign event, Stark responded “f— this.” At that point, the officer moved to handcuff Stark.
The disturbing footage below shows a second officer sweeping Stark’s legs from underneath him, violently throwing him face first into the sidewalk. More officers ran over and five men piled onto Stark’s back as he begged to free his arm from underneath his own body and the weight of the police. Multiple witnesses report that Stark was punched repeatedly in the legs during the altercation.
Although the police officers claim in the video to be arresting Stark for swearing, citing county code 511, Stark was ultimately charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and released on a $3000 bond.
The unprecedented secrecy of his campaign has been noted by media attempting to cover his candidacy, including the Washington Post, which asked plaintively on Oct. 26, “Where in the World is Ed?“
The Gillespie campaign’s tactics for evading questions only escalated as the Republican has sunk in the polls.
First, the candidate awkwardly sidestepped Stark’s question about his capitulation to the tobacco industry. Then the team was content to have the candidate simply ignore Stark when he posed a question about Gillespie’s racist ads. At the Wise debate, Gillespie’s campaign manager insisted that Stark be barred from the post-debate scrum, despite being fully credentialed to cover the event.
Later, the Gillespie campaign attempted to use event venue staff to eject Stark. And then the Gillespie team resorted to using the police acting as event security to threaten Stark with trespassing as he stood with other media to cover campaign events.
Hours after being released from the Fairfax County jail, Stark was waiting in the hallway of a strip mall, where Gillespie had a public event to talk to the Virginians whose votes he needs on Nov. 7. Stark asked the gubernatorial hopeful why he was so afraid to answer for the racism in his own campaign. The candidate ignored him.
Stark retrieved his car from the alley where he had parked next to Gillespie’s car. On the ride home, he discovered his front passenger tire had been punctured.