GOP blogger arrested at Netroots Nation for allegedly harassing two female bloggers for wearing Muslim head scarves, women fight back.

This is a really outrageous story.  But it has a happy ending.  Not only did the jerk get arrested, but a group of women fought back in quite a unique manner.  And there’s video.  And the arrest record is online – I’m printing it here since a number of conservatives, including PJTV, seem to be suggesting the guy never did this, nor was arrested.  Here you go.

Police report showing arrest of conservative blogger

Last week, during the Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis, local GOP blogger John Hugh Gilmore, who blogs at Minnesota Conservatives, according to multiple witnesses (dozens of people were on the street watching and helping the women), walked by two Muslim women who were attending the Netroots Nation conference, and were walking down the sidewalk after dinner.  According to the witnesses, including one of the women he approached, Gilmore saw the women were wearing hijabs, or headscarves, traditional to more conservative Muslim women.  He stopped and asked them what they thought of a well-known woman who opposes the headscarf.  The women said they didn’t agree with her, Gilmore then approached the women and continued to push the conversation, even after the women asked him to leave them alone.

The witnesses say he then started taking pictures of the women, they asked him to stop, he continued taking the photos, and first one, then both women began to cry.  At some point, he reportedly told them to go back to their country – both women were American – and he either tried to call, or pretended to call, conservative activists Andrew Breitbart (this part was caught on tape). A crowd started to grow around Gilmore as several dozen Netroots Nations attendees realized the women were in trouble.

Unfortunately, not all the bystanders were American.  Included in those who came out to defend the women were two female Middle Eastern bloggers invited to visit our country as guests of the US State Department.  State has a media outreach program that, ironically, brings foreigners to the US to show them that, among other things, we’re not really as anti-Muslim as people think.  The women were Muslim, from Pakistan and Oman, and they got to watch what witnesses describe as an American man berating two women for practicing their Muslim faith. Fortunately they also got to witness dozens of other Americans defending, and protecting, the two women from the man.

The police were eventually called, and the man was arrested for disorderly conduct, among other things.  From Minnesota Public Radio:

A St. Paul blogger faces misdemeanor charges after he allegedly harassed two Muslim women last week in downtown Minneapolis.

Minneapolis police say John Hugh Gilmore, 52, who writes a blog called Minnesota Conservatives, caused a scene Thursday night on Nicollet Mall. Sgt. Bill Palmer, a police spokesman, said Gilmore appeared to be drunk when he confronted the two women wearing the Muslim headscarf known as the hijab.

“Mr. Gilmore made some comments that he didn’t believe the women should be in the United States, and that he thought that they were ruining America,” Palmer said.

In response to the provocation by the conservative blogger, a group of women attending the Netroots Nation conference, both Muslim and non-Muslim, decided to hold a “hijab flash mob” at the GOP blog conference being held at the Minneapolis Hilton (the conservative bloggers routinely hold their conference every year in our hotel). With less than an hour’s notice, the women descended on the hotel, donned hijab scarves, and marched their way up to the conservative blog conference.

That’s when things got interesting.

A guard wouldn’t let the women in to the conference.  They asked me what to do – I was there covering their flash mob – and I told them that we had security at our conference as well, so they should abide by the security’s wishes.  A few reporters were present, and asking questions, so one of the women began to explain why they were there.

Suddenly, a man from “PJ TV” stuck a microphone in front of the lead woman and started to question her. He got increasingly upset, and basically charged her, and me, with lying about the incident with the GOP blogger the other night, simply beacuse the woman couldn’t recall the name of the GOP blogger who had been arrested. You can watch the beginning of the woman’s statement, and the GOP “reporter” getting more and more upset with the woman, and with me.

I then turned off my video so I could explain, on behalf of the women, what happened the other night to the two Muslim women. Understandably, the women running the flash mob were unaccustomed to conservatives aggressively shouting at them. I however, am.

JoeMyGod got the rest of the video of me answering the jerk’s questions.  Watch the video.  Not the nicest people.  And of course, as the MN public radio story, and the police report I linked to above proves, we were right – he was a conservative blogger, as I had already explained, and he was arrested for harassing the women.  So much for PJ TV’s brand of “if you yell it enough times, it must be true” journalism.

Here’s JoeMyGod’s video of the PJ TV guy questioning the lead woman, and then me:

UPDATE: The PJTV guy, who really was a jerk, appeared on a broadcast about the anti-bigotry flashmob, with a clip showing how much of a jerk he was, and  they end with a “related” story about how people are using social media to recruit homegrown terrorists.  Get it?  Muslim-American women are using the blogs to protest a conservative blogger’s bigoted attack on Muslim women, so a “related” story is how “social media is being used to recruit homegrown Islamic terrorists.”  Tells you all you need to know.  (As an aside, what IS she wearing?)

And here’s the testimony of one of the witnesses who was present when the man harassed the women.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDKFr3D_TcQ?hl=en]

It’s funny, I’m not a big fan of hijabs.  I worry that, at least in some countries, they’re part of the cultural oppressio
n of women (especially when I see women covered in black, head to toe, in 110 degree heat, and guys wearing blue jeans and fun t-shirts.  But I’m also not a big fan of men harassing women on public streets simply because they’re wearing a scarf on their head, or thinking they couldn’t be American simply because they’re Muslim.

It’s an odd way to fight the oppression of women by bullying them.

Here’s some final video of John Hugh Gilmore after he allegedly harassed the women, and right before he was arrested.  Video by Jeremy Ryan of DefendingWisconsin.org, published with his permission.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15SEXyOU8iI?hl=en]

As a final point, I will say that, to their credit, a few of the conservative bloggers who were watching the flashmob, and with whom I was speaking, were very concerned when they heard what had happened earlier to the two women on the street.  They asked me to send more information, to confirm that he was a conservative blogger, but they were legitimately not happy that someone would harass women like this.

PS As an aside, here’s a still shot of the PJ TV “reporter” who was all tough-guy with the women conducting the flashmob.  Note the very manly unlit cigar in his hand, and the even manlier manscaped eyebrows.  The true definition of tough guy…. in the Castro…. circa 1970.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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