A few dozen demonstrators chanted “CNN sucks” around the entrance to the news network’s Atlanta headquarters Saturday afternoon, prompting many Black Lives Matter supporters to ponder why the crowd was not dispersed from the same place as BLM was in late May.
The Saturday rally was organized by the “Walk Away” campaign, which supports President Donald Trump and is led by “former liberal” New York City hairdresser Brandon Straka. Videos from the event show dozens of demonstrators holding “don’t tread on me” Gadsden flags (associated with white supremacists) and “#StopTheSteal” posters. Several self-identifying “poll workers” were on hand to relay stories of alleged voter fraud and to corroborate the president’s unfounded claims the November 3 election was “rigged” against him.
Straka and rally attendees repeatedly called Biden “a loser” although they provided no tangible evidence or allegations backing up their false claim that Trump was victorious.
The “#WalkAway Rescue America Fake News Takedown” rally featured several guest speakers in addition to Straka, who founded the group during the 2018 midterm elections as a means of turning minorities and LGBT community members away from the Democrats.
“This is a very, very special event to me. It’s close to my heart because it was the fake news that led to me walking away from the Democratic Party. Let’s give it up from everyone who walked away from the Democratic Party this year,” Straka told the crowd as he pointed toward the CNN offices above the crowd.
Videos showing the seemingly calm Saturday demonstration on social media led many Black Lives Matter backers to question why police had not pushed them off the property using tear gas, as occurred to BLM demonstrators six months ago. CNN itself reported the scene live on May 29, as the “protests turned violent at CNN headquarters.”
In late May, just days after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protesters scaled the CNN headquarters sign and raised a Black Lives Matter flag atop the logo. A Black CNN reporter was arrested and other journalists at the network reported broken glass and a chaotic scene which led to police using force to break up the protest.
CNN host Chris Cuomo reiterated on the air that night “we are not being victimized” in an attempt to shift the narrative back to the largely peaceful anti-police brutality protests occurring in other parts of Atlanta and throughout the country.
“I wonder how many of them know they are privileged to be able to protest right in front of CNN. BLM protests were kept away from there every time I was there,” one BLM supporter tweeted in response to the Saturday videos in Atlanta. “Funny we protest against police violence and hatred they protest for one hate-filled dude.”
“Where’s the tear gas?” replied Amberly Wright-Thurman, prompting several Twitter users to claim Trump supporters “don’t use violence.”
Straka continued railing to the crowd, highlighting the so-called success of the “Walk Away” movement based on preliminary exit polls from the election. Straka and many others on-hand booed any mention of President-elect Joe Biden‘s name, continuing to espouse the false claim he was defeated by Trump.
“We nearly doubled the Black vote, saw enormous shifting with the Hispanic community, the Asian community, the Jewish community, and we doubled the LGBT vote,” Straka continued, prompting several additional “CNN sucks” chants.
After the May protests devolved into violence outside CNN and police broke it up using their own show of force, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms blasted the BLM protesters: “You are burning cars, you have defaced the CNN building. Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta 40 years ago because he believed in who we are as a city. There was a Black reporter who was arrested on-camera this morning, who works for CNN and they are telling our stories. And you are disgracing their building.”
Newsweek reached out to CNN’s Atlanta headquarters as well as the “Rescue America” rally organizers Saturday afternoon.
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