Associated Press photographers Julio Cortez and John Minchillo were both in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday doing their jobs—documenting the unprecedented storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. But, as Cortez’s terrifying GoPro footage shows, the rioters did not want them anywhere near them to record their illegal and destructive actions.
Cortez’s video begins as he and Minchillo are apparently taking photos of police officers in riot gear outside the Capitol before their defenses were breached and the storming of the building began. Cortez suddenly swings around to show Minchillo being dragged backward into the Trumpist mob as an angry male rioter shouts out: “Why are the media here!?” Another man can be heard screaming “We’re coming for you!”
Minchillo then disappears from sight and Cortez dives into the baying crowd to go after him as everything is recorded on his GoPro. Cortez finds Minchillo being pushed around by angry white men and pleading with them to leave him alone, apparently pointing to his press lanyard. One of the rioters can be heard shouting: “Get the fuck out of here!”
Minchillo is then dragged and pushed over a wall, and drops hard to the ground below, taking a protester with him. He’s then angrily questioned as to whether he’s “antifa” as one man wearing a MAGA hat retrieves his camera and tells the people surrounding them that Minchillo is with the press. Two protesters then help him get out of the crowd.
Posting the shocking video to Instagram, Cortez wrote that his colleague was not hurt in the attack, which he said appeared to have been sparked when Minchillo was mistaken for an “anti-protester.”
“Thankfully, he wasn’t injured,” Cortez wrote in his caption, referring to Minchillo. “He was labeled as an anti protesters, even though he kept flashing his press credentials, and one person can be heard threatening to kill him. This is an unedited, real life situation of a member of the press keeping his cool even though he was being attacked. A true professional and a great teammate, I’m glad we were able to get away.”
In the comments section of his post, lots of people praised Cortez for staying with his colleague as the furious crowd pulled him away. Cortez responded: “He would’ve stayed with me if the tables were turned.”
On the day of the riots, Minchillo posted dozens of photos from the thick of the trouble. Despite being attacked by the crowd, it seems that he then followed them into the Capitol to document their destructive storming of the building. Minchillo also stayed to take photos after dark, hours after the shocking scenes of his attack shown in Cortez’s video.
Cortez and Manchillo have been contacted for comment.
Minchillo wasn’t the only photographer to be attacked on Wednesday. Erin Schaff, a staff photographer at The New York Times, wrote a sickening account of her run-in with the rioters. She said she was surrounded by two or three men dressed in black inside the Capitol building who demanded to know who she was working for.
“Grabbing my press pass, they saw that my ID said The New York Times and became really angry,” the photojournalist wrote. “They threw me to the floor, trying to take my cameras. I started screaming for help as loudly as I could. No one came. People just watched. At this point, I thought I could be killed and no one would stop them. They ripped one of my cameras away from me, broke a lens on the other and ran away.”
Schaff wrote that her ordeal continued when she was found by police, saying in her account: “I told them [police officers] that I was a photojournalist and that my pass had been stolen, but they didn’t believe me. They drew their guns, pointed them and yelled at me to get down on my hands and knees. As I lay on the ground, two other photojournalists came into the hall and started shouting “She’s a journalist!”