Politics reporter tackled and arrested by Virginia police after cursing

Politics reporter tackled and arrested by Virginia police after cursing
A screenshot of a video showing Mike Stark’s arrest in Virginia. Shareblue
A screenshot of a video showing Mike Stark’s arrest in Virginia. Shareblue

A reporter for a liberal website was tackled to the ground by police officers and arrested Saturday while trying to film Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie at a Virginia parade.

Shareblue Media reporter Mike Stark was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest on Saturday, according to executive editor Jess McIntosh. Shareblue Media promotes Democratic policies and candidates.

In a video posted on Shareblue’s website showing the arrest, Stark can be seen backing up onto the sidewalk from Gillespie’s campaign vehicle at a parade. Tensions seem to escalate after Stark retreated to the sidewalk.

According to a post on Shareblue’s website that accompanied the video, police officers told Stark that he would not be allowed to ask Gillespie questions at the parade.

“I’m just a reporter doing my job,” Stark said in the video, after which he and officers exchange some words that are inaudible. A few seconds later, an officer can be heard saying: “If you curse again, I’ll arrest you.”

“Fuck this,” Stark can be heard saying, after which an officer directed another to handcuff him.

Soon afterward, Stark and the officers appeared to briefly struggle. In the video, an officer can be seen pulling Stark’s legs out from under him. Stark falls head-first into the sidewalk before police pile on top of him to continue trying to handcuff him.

“I will give you my arm,” Stark can be heard saying. “You have your weight on top of me. I can’t give you my hand. …. I can’t!”

In the video, three additional police officers ran over and tackled Stark, already on the ground. One of those police officers can be seen pushing his knee into Stark’s head.

Officers eventually turned Stark over. In the video, a wound is visible on Stark’s temple.

“Do you always arrest people for cursing?” Stark said in the video.

“Yes,” an officer responded. “County Code 5-1-1.”

Stark was not charged under Section 5-1-1 of Fairfax County’s Code of Ordinances, McIntosh said, which says that a person is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor if found to “profanely curse or swear or be drunk in public.” (He was also, according to McIntosh, not charged under Section 5-1-15, which says that a person is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor if cursing or swearing is “reasonably calculated to provoke a breach of the peace.”)

McIntosh said that the video was shot by a person from American Bridge, a Super PAC that supports Democratic candidates and conducts opposition research. American Bridge’s founder, Democratic strategist David Brock, owns Shareblue Media.

McIntosh said she thinks the arrest is part of a larger pattern of Gillespie’s habit of avoiding the press. Stark has, according to McIntosh’s article about the incident, been barred from certain press availabilities, despite being credentialed to cover some campaign events.

“It seems to be their M.O. with Mike, but it’s not exclusive to Shareblue,” McIntosh said. “[Gillespie] just doesn’t want to talk about his racist campaign.”

Stark has been released on a $3,000 bond. McIntosh said that Stark has conferred with lawyers over the matter.

“I’m just very happy that he’s all right,” McIntosh said. “And I’m glad he’s back on the trail.”