Thanks to Jeremy Ryan of Defend Wisconsin, who gave permission to AmericaBlog to post this on their YouTube channel, we now have video of prominent Minnesota Republican activist and party functionary John Gilmore right as he’s about to get arrested for harassing a few women who made the mistake of being openly Muslim in his presence.
Oh, and guess what? It turns out our very own Gregg Levine was an inadvertent witness to the start of the harassment:
OMG, after looking at the videos, I realize I saw the start of this whole thing Thursday night on Nicolette Mall. I assumed Gilmore was some drunk local or tourist. He was screaming in a sort of drunk-sounding slur, THIS IS AMERICA, and holding his camera three feet in front of his face and flashing pictures while he yelled at the women.
The women in hijab had this so under control, I felt no need to intervene. Really, they were calm and smart and mostly just told him they were practicing their religion and to leave them alone–and I felt they didn’t need some pasty NYer escalating things. I didn’t realize it did escalate after I walked on.
Gilmore came off as a screaming freak. I’m glad the police intervened–he was harassing the women. And since it is now theoretically illegal to take pictures of bridges, it should at least be investigated when someone tries to intimidate by snapping picture after picture of you when you are minding your own business.
And, now that it is in context, think what lies beneath. Gilmore is taking pictures to show how insidious the left Netroots is because we include these “obviously subversive terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.” I’m sure he thought he had some sort of scoop, himself. What a pig.
This tallies well with what we see on the video as well as with the various other eyewitness descriptions, such as these at City Pages, the local arm of the Village Voice:
Elisabeth Geschiere, a pedi-cab driver, was working on Nicollet Mall when she recognized a friend, Jamila Boudlali, standing outside of the Dakota Jazz club. She came over and started talking with Boudlali, and her friend Anwar Hijaz, who were downtown for an afterparty for Netroots Nation, the progressive political blogging conference. Both Hijaz and Boudlali were wearing Muslim headscarves.
That apparently attracted the attention of a gray-haired man — 52-year-old Gilmore — who suddenly approached the trio and said the name, “Ayan Hersi Ali.” Ali is a vocal, female critic of Islam. The three women tried to brush him off, saying they did not want to debate with him.
And that, according to cops and witnesses, is when Gilmore became belligerent, taking photos of the women, and demanding to know why they were in the U.S. Geschiere says when she asked him to stop taking their photo, things only escalated.
“He started saying things like, ‘This is America, welcome to America, this is the western world,'” says Geschiere. “So I immediately retorted like, ‘Dude, we all grew up in America.'”
As bystanders started to intervene, the shouting ramped up, and Gilmore started pacing around the crowd and yelling “Andrew Breitbart — hello!” into his phone. That was the first time, says witness and visiting Netroots Nation-attendee Matt Glazer, that he realized the man was a conservative.
“He made it sounds like he was about to hurt people, so then that’s when I called the police,” says Glazer.
More on this as it develops.
Note, ladies and gentlemen, that this occurred the evening before Andrew Breitbart’s attempt to sneak into Netroots Nation without paying. Much of the early scuttlebutt about this conflated the two events, leading to confusion that still exists today in some quarters.
(Crossposted to Mercury Rising.)