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Protester disputes Metaxas account of RNC altercation

And a strange campaign season enters its next phase

Protester disputes Metaxas account of RNC altercation

Protesters rally near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on Thursday in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

UPDATED Thursday, Sept. 3: A man identifying himself as the protester in a video circulating on social media disputes Eric Metaxas’ account of an altercation on the streets of Washington, D.C., after the Republican National Convention last week. 

Metaxas claimed a protester on a bicycle came at him in a menacing way before a video appears to show him swinging at the protester. The protester says that isn’t true. In a note from the protester’s Instagram account, he wrote: “Bottom line, though, is he attacked me. I wasn’t threatening or intimidating them. Sure I was talking [profanity]. But I gave them no reason to attack me. He had to lunge at me to punch me from behind. Charges will be filed.” (The protester didn’t disclose his name in his response.)

Religion Unplugged reported on Thursday that Metaxas sent an email to executive editor Paul Glader, repeating his earlier claims about the protester, and saying that Metaxas did try to “knock him away.” Glader reported Metaxas wrote: “It just happened.”

Below is our earlier report:

Maryland pastor Harry Jackson had a close-up look at an incident Thursday night that has received broad social media attention: He says a protester confronting guests leaving President Donald Trump’s speech at the White House repeatedly rode his bicycle very close toward Eric Metaxas—a Christian author, radio host, and Trump supporter. And a video of the incident appears to show Metaxas taking a swing at the protester. 

Metaxas responded to WORLD’s inquiries about the incident on Monday morning via email, saying he had “chosen to go off social media till now and not to comment on any of this.” He added: “For context, just so you know, the guy came at me with his bike and was very menacing for a long time.” Metaxas said he had been escorting his wife and Maryland pastor Harry Jackson to an Uber ride. 

I spoke with Jackson Monday morning, and the pastor confirmed he had been with Metaxas and his wife that evening. Jackson said after they left Trump’s speech at the White House, they had walked down a D.C. street for about 10 minutes while protesters cursed at them. 

Jackson said they turned down a side street to meet their Uber driver, and a protester on a bicycle kept swerving close to Metaxas while cursing Trump and them. (Jackson described the encounter as the bicyclist “playing chicken” with Metaxas.)

Jackson said the encounter was intimidating enough that he wondered if he would need to use his walking cane to defend himself. He said the protester came within a few inches of Metaxas, but he didn’t know if he physically touched Metaxas. The video only shows about six seconds before Metaxas appears to hit the protester.

The protester posted the video on his Instagram account, showing officers detaining him on the side of the road after the encounter. He wrote: “I got punched by a member of the RNC and get detained by the Secret Service for absolutely nothing.” Another video shows the protester telling police he didn’t touch the man. 

The protester’s Instagram account identifies him by the handle antidote503, and with the location Portland, Ore. He posted a photo and video a few days earlier indicating he was traveling from Portland to D.C. for protests: “@portlandresistance and I have arrived! dc let’s get to it.” (UPDATE: Religion News Service [RNS] reported a man identifying himself as the protester disputed Metaxas’ account. He declined to give his name to RNS, but said: “He attacked me. I wasn't threatening or intimidating. I was on a rented bicycle! He clearly punched me from behind.”

The incident was a strange note in a chaotic night, as other videos showed crowds of protesters surrounding couples and individuals after they left the White House. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he feared for the safety of his wife and himself as a crowd pressed in on them and the police officers around them, shouting at them. Paul called for an FBI investigation into what he called “interstate criminal traffic being paid for across state lines.”

The virus and the violence

Just two months remain before the Nov. 3 contest, and two issues may take center stage in the campaigns: the virus upending the world, and the violence upending some American cities.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden is making Trump’s response to the coronavirus a centerpiece of his campaign. One of Biden’s talking points: He would have handled it better than Trump. 

Hindsight does give clarity, but on Feb. 29—the day that news broke of the first coronavirus death in the U.S.—I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other reporters in a Wofford College gym while Biden addressed a crowd of hundreds of people packed onto bleachers at a campaign rally. Two weeks later, the CDC advised against gatherings of more than 10 people.

It all happened fast, and Trump will have to defend his response—a poll in July showed 60 percent of Americans disapprove of how he’s handled the pandemic. But Biden may have more success at persuading voters that his plan going forward will be better than convincing them that he would have shaped a better outcome.

Meanwhile, Trump is making urban unrest a centerpiece of his reelection campaign. During his Thursday night speech, the president warned that Democrats would “demolish the suburbs” and “confiscate your guns.” 

Biden’s gun control plan doesn’t include confiscating all guns, but Democrats may have missed a moment during their own convention when it comes to violence: They rightly lamented some of the tragic deaths of black citizens during police encounters, but they didn’t respond to the violence gripping some cities in the wake of protests. 

Biden has pushed back on criticism that he hasn’t spoken out forcefully enough: He says he condemns all forms of violence. But the issue will continue to surface as the campaign continues. 

Agenda addition

We noted that Trump’s recently released second term agenda didn’t include priorities related to religious liberty, pro-life concerns, or judicial appointments. It seemed odd, given the importance of those issues to some conservatives.

Late last week, the list expanded with a section that includes priorities on life, religious liberty, appointing constitutionalist justices, and protecting Second Amendment rights.

I’ve asked the Trump campaign for comment on the new section (and the concerns that it wasn’t originally included), and we’ll report any response.

Republicans and religion

Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the Republican National Convention raised some eyebrows on Wednesday night when he mixed Scripture and patriotic language. “Let’s run the race marked out for us,” he began. 

The phrase comes from the opening verses of Hebrews 12. But Pence continued, “Let’s fix our eyes on Old Glory and all that she represents.”  That’s not in the book of Hebrews—the New Testament passage says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

Pence added: “And let’s fix our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith and freedom, and never forget that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom—and that means freedom always wins.”

The second half of that remark partially echoes 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” 

Politicians invoking Biblical language isn’t new: President Ronald Reagan famously compared America to the “shining city on a hill” from Matthew 5. Two weeks ago, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris said she was committed to “the word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight.” 

As a writer, I sometimes fold Biblical phrases into news stories, but it does require care. When a listener is expecting to hear the word “Jesus” in a Biblical quote, it’s jolting to hear a reference to the American flag instead. It also risks mixing hope in an imperfect, finite nation with the Christian’s eternal hope in a perfect Savior of people from all nations. 

It’s a good reminder that during another tumultuous election season, fixing our eyes on Jesus is the one thing that can keep Christians grounded, even if they do find themselves sometimes divided.

Editor’s Note: WORLD has updated this story since its original posting.

Comments

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  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Tue, 09/01/2020 08:57 am

    According to Jamie Dean:  Metaxas is an evil character taking a swing at the innocent protester! And that godless VP Pence including in scripture with hope directed towards the President and his second term. How dare he do that! And that evil Trump trying to jettison the Christian agenda- we knew this back in 2016! Just ask Marvin Olasky.  And Biden is pro-Second Ammendment - he won't take all the guns. He is against violence of all kinds too and never supported it from day one.  

    I guess we should listen to the moral elite with all their wisdom! 
     

    Here is how it really went down!

     https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uxXS5T0QZVs

    Or this where you will have to listen a while to hear Bongino's experience 

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=emb_title&v=F__KwFCLsvg

    Or here is Rand Paul telling his experience:

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/sen-rand-paul-thanks-dc-cops-for-saving-him-from-crazed-mob-after-rnc

  • not silent
    Posted: Tue, 09/01/2020 02:47 pm

    Based on your summation of the message, you and I must have read completely different articles, Cyborg.  

  •  DaleCutler's picture
    DaleCutler
    Posted: Tue, 09/01/2020 11:25 am

    "According to Jamie Dean:  Metaxas is an evil character taking a swing at the innocent protester!"

    That sure is not what I read. It doesn't sound like you will be called a peacemaker any time soon!

     

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Wed, 09/02/2020 01:35 am

    Yes I am a peacemaker for I stand up to the violent mob who bring chaos, anarchy, violence and even murder to our cities.  I will stand up to a reporter pushing a perception of events that is distorted and prevents Christians from seeing clearly what is the situation. Certainly, I was using sarcasm and hyperbole when I wrote the post but it was meant to make the reader think. 

  • Idaho ob
    Posted: Tue, 09/01/2020 03:01 pm

    One more reason we have canceled our subscription to World. No digging into facts about BLM and Antifa.  Continual panic about COVID even as more facts come out proving this was a tragic mistake of what we have done and doing.

  •  phillipW's picture
    phillipW
    Posted: Wed, 09/02/2020 01:33 pm

    Yeah, I'm glad I'm not alone in seeing this.  World's coverage of COVID and Antifa/BLM is beyond offensive to me in how cowardly their attempt at "journalism" is.

    Our country is being shut down, burned and destroyed by evil and demonic forces, and World is sitting around singing, "Kum Ba Yah."

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Tue, 09/01/2020 07:02 pm

    Based on what I've seen and heard and read about the RNC episode, the "protesters" were remarkably uncivilized and downright disgraceful.

  •  phillipW's picture
    phillipW
    Posted: Wed, 09/02/2020 01:35 pm

    You are being kind.  And don't even describe them as "protesters".  They were flown in from Portland for the very purpose of attacking violently anyone who came out of the White House.  They are paid anarchists with the sole purpose of destroying our country.

    Frankly, I'm shocked the POTUS hasn't invoked the Insurrection Act.  Yeah, I know, we've got an election to win.

  • kincin
    Posted: Wed, 09/02/2020 02:02 am

    Back in a World May 28 article written by Sophia Lee titled A Phillipppians 2 Spotlight On My Arrogant Heart a friend responded, “I’m not mad, Sophia. It’s just sometimes you come at people like you know everything. Which is awesome, you’re smart, I get it. But I notice that when anyone says anything to you, sometimes the way you answer is like everyone is stupid except you.” 

    I wish more World writers/journalists would read that article and be humbled as Sophia was. I'm coming away more and more from World as being talked down to and incapable of having the knowledge or intelligence  to gain the right information on a given news story or topic. As I feel here from Dean. 

    I'm thankful for their hard work and putting great informative articles together. Dean though falls short on a few things in this article. What Biden said about confiscsting guns,  Dean failed to get more information on Biden‘s past comments on gun control and not only his statements but other power figures in the DNC.

    Does Metaxas have to defend his position to defend himself? Anyone approaching another person in an attempt to bring physical harm is a threat and the person being threatened has the legal right to defend himself. 

    And the virus? Where is Dean on the recent CDC report with only 6% truly died of just COVID19. Sure many others died but not just from Covid19. Some states are still locked down especially California churches. But Biden and others would have done a better job curtsiling its threat. 

    I'm tired of most news media and articles like Dean and others makes World not the inspirational news magazine that I use to enjoy. 

     

     

  • Nanamiro
    Posted: Thu, 09/03/2020 07:17 pm

    I agree with many of your sentiments. I have loved WORLD for several years now, but during the last 6 months, something is missing. It feels too much like other media, just softened a bit. Less panic driven, but missing reporting on the deeper questions they usually do a good job at looking into.

  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Wed, 09/02/2020 08:21 am

    Some useful information in here but I had to "Sift" through it to use the WNG term. I guess I understand the confusion or maybe concern about VP Pence's use of scripture. I'm glad she mentions Reagan and others. But has she, we, read anything by Frederick Douglass!? His use, especially of the OT prophets, fully embedded in his speeches and writings for political and racial purposes, would have been worth mention as well. 

  •  phillipW's picture
    phillipW
    Posted: Wed, 09/02/2020 01:30 pm

    The adjective you used to describe the people assaulting and intimidating people leaving the White House last Thursday after the Republican National Convention is false.  These people are not "protesters".  Their were flown in from Portland with the specific goal of harrassing, intimidating, and threatening anyone leaving the White House after President Trump's acceptance speech.

    You need to get your facts straight and start reporting this sort of information factually.  These people were physically confronting and abusing innocent people leaving a public event on a public street.  They were in fear for their lives.  If the worst thing Eric Metaxas did was take a swing at someone, it honestly probably wasn't enough. 

    We, as citizens have the right to defend ourselves and protect our lives and property.  If World is going to use false adjectives to describe a situation that was far more dangerous than you make it out to be, then you really need to be out of the journalism business.  Your assessment and reporting of this situation is disingenous at best, and borderline dangerous at worst.  By not condemning these rioters and anarchists and describing them correctly, you are only encouraging their lawless behavior going forward.

    I'm just really disgusted by World's coverage of these sorts of events.  Your conduct is disgraceful.

  • Nanamiro
    Posted: Thu, 09/03/2020 07:05 pm

    That's kind of funny. This guy, speeding around on his bike, following pedestrians while yelling profanity at them, and he says, "I wasn’t threatening or intimidating them...I gave them no reason to attack me." I don't know if Metaxes should have swung at him, perhaps not, but to say this "protester" wasn't being intimidating or threatening...please. If a Trump supporter was doing that to him while he walked down the street with his wife, I think he would have had a different perspective. It's also amusing that these "demonstrators" have been attacking police officers for months around the country, unprovoked.

  • HANNAH.
    Posted: Sat, 09/05/2020 03:05 pm

    According to Andy Ngo, the man on the bike was "Anthony P. Harrington, who was convicted in Portland for being a felon in possession of gun & robbing someone at gunpoint." There's nothing "funny" or "amusing" about this character. (I recognize the irony in your using those words, Nanamiro.)

    At the bottom of the article where Andy Ngo is quoted, a reader comments: "I witnessed this event, although I did not realize the person involved was Eric Metaxas. I was a few yards behind, walking down the same street right after leaving the White House. It appeared to me that the bicycle rider deliberately rode very fast directly at someone (Metaxas) who reacted to him defensively and resulted in him falling off his bike. It seemed like a deliberate provocation. It was an incredibly tense situation on that street with random people screaming obscenities at us — one person yelled at me that he wanted me to be guillotined. I can’t imagine not reacting instinctively; it was a very threatening and unpredictable situation."
    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/eric-metaxas-protester-christian-dandy-throws-a-punch/

  • CK
    Posted: Wed, 09/16/2020 07:21 am

    I respectfully share that as someone who follows Jesus, our faith permeates (as it should be in increasing fashion) everything we do, including our speech. I hope VP Pence was speaking in such a manner as is kindly indicated in the article, because his faith permeates his public service. 

  • JerryM
    Posted: Sun, 09/20/2020 07:40 pm

    Wow! Some hostile comments above.  I will agree with some points, mainly that Jaime is not applying the same aggressive style of reporting to both sides of the political aisle, an issue identified in MSM.
    Why question why president Trump did not include a full list of policy agenda items, but two separate lists, when you don't question why VP Biden stated he would ask Beto O'Rourke, who advocated for gun confiscation, to help him "take care" of gun control.   Instead, Jaime appears to fact-check President Trump's related claim (regarding "your" guns) as wrong and defend Biden, stating his gun control plan doesn’t include confiscating "all" guns. 
    In addition, to say Democrats may have missed a moment by not talking about the violence  engulfing American cities seems, at best, an understatement.  
    We are left with a sense of imbalance in the reporting...

  • SamIamHis
    Posted: Mon, 10/12/2020 04:19 pm

    I am somewhat confounded that this article still pops up on World's home page.  Since it was posted 08/31/2020 and today is October 12, 2020 it seems as though this news is older than front page. Many other things have occurred since that date which are probably more relevant to these times than Eric Metaxis defending himself from an impudent and aggressive protestor.  It's one thing to report on a sensationalized version of a story but quite another to continue to use it as click bait.  This really saddens me.

  •  phillipW's picture
    phillipW
    Posted: Tue, 10/20/2020 02:11 pm

    WORLD is apparently doubling down on stupid.