A New York reporter and photojournalist is speaking out about having a toy gun pointed at her by a supporter of President Donald Trump while she covered a pro-Trump rally over the weekend.
Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli described her experience at the Glen Falls, New York rally, which took place on Saturday.
A Trump rally in Glens Falls on Saturday was accented by conflict from other groups, as well as downtown businesses https://t.co/PXdB1UELQA
— The Post-Star (@poststar) October 6, 2019
The incident started when Mike Kibling, a member of the North Country Deplorables, took notice of Tomaselli and raised “an orange plastic-looking gun that was more than likely a toy of some sort,” she wrote in a blog post published Saturday in The Post-Star, a local newspaper which has been accused in the past of having a “liberal bias.”
An account of the confrontation was covered in a Post-Star report on the pro-Trump rally. Tomaselli also wrote that piece. In it, she referred to the plastic toy as a “fake semi-automatic weapon” and noted that it was unloaded.
According to her, Kibling cocked the toy gun twice and shouted at her through a megaphone.
“Here, Post-Star is my unloaded rifle. Here’s my 10-round clip,” he allegedly said.
He then allegedly pointed the gun at Tomaselli while continuing to berate her as a “liberal fake reporter.”
Tomaselli averred in her blog post that while she attempted to maintain her composure, in the back of her mind she was thinking: “you are taking pictures of a man who is pointing a gun at you and threatening you.”
“Whether the gun is real, fake, plastic, metal, loaded or unloaded, I am thinking it has the same halting effect. A gun pointed at anyone is a threatening act, real or perceived as real,” she said, before noting that several states have passed laws that criminalize the brandishing of all guns – toy or not.
Tomaselli said that hours after the encounter, she was “still thinking about how it feels to have a gun, even though fake, pointed directly at me while trying to do my job.”
“Years ago, my brother played with toy, gun-slinger cowboy guns that were strapped on his waist, shooting me at every turn, sometimes with caps added. I didn’t like it then and I still don’t,” she said.
Trump derangement syndrome at its finest here. Never thought I would see people getting upended by bright orange Nerf guns, but here we are. It's the left folks, they hate all guns, even toy guns.
— David LaPell (@DaveLapell) October 6, 2019
In a column published Tuesday, Post-Star editor Ken Tingley condemned the incident.
“I hope that shocks you,” Tingley wrote, after describing how the Trump supporter lobbed “screaming insults at the reporter and threats against the newspaper.”
“I wonder how many of our readers go to work wondering if someone is going to show up with a weapon like they did at the Capital Gazette last year,” Tingley added, referencing a 2018 shooting at the offices of a Maryland newspaper.
One of the few replies to the Post-Star on Twitter, where the modest-sized local outlet sees little in the way of engagement, suggested the incident had been overblown.
“Trump derangement syndrome at its finest here. Never thought I would see people getting upended by bright orange Nerf guns, but here we are. It’s the left folks, they hate all guns, even toy guns,” wrote one commenter.
Tingley seemed to anticipate such a criticism.
“If you believe I am being overly dramatic, I predicted back in June that these rallies could get violent,” he wrote in his column.