MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Duluth police say they are investigating after a President Donald Trump supporter attacked a WCCO photojournalist Wednesday evening ahead of the president's rally.
In a statement Thursday, the Duluth Police Department said that investigators are currently working to identify the man, who left before officers got to the scene. Anyone who recognizes him is asked to call 218-730-5020.
Photojournalist Dymanh Chhoun, who has covered several political events for WCCO-TV, was on assignment Wednesday gathering video of Trump supporters and nearby protesters carrying signs for Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
While recording video with a cellphone, Chhoun captured Trump supporters as they confronted the protesters in a public space. Chhoun identified himself as a member of the media.
He began recording one Trump supporter when the man turned around and said: "You guys want to be peaceful? Be peaceful! You want to be violent? Come to me!" The man then punched the phone out of Chhoun's hand.
Chhoun was not hurt. His phone was not damaged.
Like many WCCO photojournalists, Chhoun puts his health and safety at risk on a daily basis to tell stories important to Minnesotans. This year alone he's covered the COVID-19 pandemic and the riots in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd.
"I take personal exception when anyone puts my guy in danger," WCCO assignment manager Guy Still wrote on Twitter, adding: "You want to see a true American patriot? Look no further. Thank you Dymanh."
Politicians on both side spoke out against the attack, noting that the freedom of the press is protected in the Constitution.
Former Republican congressman Jason Lewis, who is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat, tweeted that the attack on Chhoun was "very upsetting," adding that police should be investigating.
"Freedom of the Press is protected by the Constitution, and that needs to be understood and respected," Lewis said.
Likewise, Jacob Frey, the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis, tweeted that the freedom of the press is a "precondition for our democracy" and urged Americans not to lose sight of that.
The mayor also said that this attack is a physical manifestation of Trump's persistent "unchecked and violent" rhetoric against members of the media.
On Thursday afternoon, the Minnesota DFL Party released a statement on the attack, calling for the state's Republican party to formally condemn it.
"Political violence is never acceptable under any circumstances," DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said. "It is essential that political campaigns remain peaceful and that everyone treats members of the media with the respect they deserve."
The Asian American Journalists Association also released a statement, urging authorities in Duluth to fully investigate the attack.
"The press is not the enemy," the statement said. "[I]t serves a fundamental role in a democracy by informing the public and holding powerful people and institutions accountable. Any threat to the press is a threat to a free society, free speech and the First Amendment."
for more features.