Cedric O’Bannon, an independent journalist who was documenting a white supremacist rally in Sacramento, felt a sudden sharp pain on his side as he was filming the neo-Nazi violence against counter-protesters with his GoPro camera.
But the pain soon became overwhelming. He lifted up his blood-soaked shirt and realized that one of the men carrying a pole with a blade on the end of it had stabbed him in the stomach, puncturing him nearly two inches deep. He limped his way to an ambulance.
Incredibly, none of the white supremacists have been charged for stabbing O’Bannon. Instead, police charged the 47-year-old victim for filming the rally, The Guardian reported Friday.
Records obtained by The Guardian reveal that officers sought to bring six charges against O’Bannon, including conspiracy, rioting, assault and unlawful assembly. His presence at the protest – along with his use of the black power fist on “social media posts expressing his ideals” – were proof that he had violated the rights of neo-Nazis at the 26 June 2016 protests, police wrote in a report.
“The judicial system is supposed to find the people who attack me, and they come after me with all these crazy charges,” O’Bannon said in a recent interview in Oakland, where he lives. “It’s outrageous.”
As noted by The Guardian:
“O’Bannon’s case is the latest example of police in the US targeting leftwing activists, anti-Trump protesters and black Americans for surveillance and prosecution over their demonstrations and online posts. At the same time, critics say, they are failing to hold neo-Nazis responsible for physical violence.”
The day of the incident, O’Bannon arrived early to the state capitol grounds the morning of the rally. The father of three, who grew up in northern California, has long been involved in activist groups fighting police brutality and said he wanted to be in a good position to document the events.
Chaos and violence quickly erupted. The neo-Nazis were the aggressors, O’Bannon recalled: “It was clear who was trying to attack me and who was trying to defend me.” Police later identified at least seven TWP men who were armed with knives.
One white supremacist with a long pole broke O’Bannon’s camera rig, knocking his GoPro to the ground, he said, adding that when he went to pick up his equipment from the ground, that was when he was speared on the right side of his body.
Police did little to protect him and others from the stabbings O’Bannon said. “They let this battle go down.”
He was then rushed to a hospital. When he awoke after surgery, his camera memory card was gone. Police left a note saying they had seized it as evidence.
When he eventually got his property back, he said, the card was empty, leading him to suspect police wiped it. Police denied erasing the footage.
Police declined to comment, but prosecutors said that there was no bias in the investigation.
O’Bannon, who has large scars on his stomach from the knife wound and the surgery, said his concerns that police were still targeting him would not prevent him from telling his story.
“We have to expose these things … before it gets worse,” he said, adding: “I’m 100% committed to speaking out against police terror, because I have that first amendment right.”