Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who refused to resign from office earlier this year after photos surfaced of him wearing blackface and mocking Hurricane Katrina survivors, tweeted “MAGA” at an Orlando Sentinel reporter who was assaulted outside the Trump re-election campaign rally in Orlando Tuesday evening by a drunk Trump supporter.
Orlando Sentinel reporter Michael Williams was filming outside the rally when he saw security officers denying entry to some rallygoers carrying backpacks and beer, reports The Washington Post.
When one of the men noticed he was being filmed, he yelled: “This motherf*cker’s taping!”
Video shows the man approaching Williams, threatening to kick him in the groin and taking a swing at him. The man is seen hitting the camera in his hand, causing the image to shake.
The attacker was identified by police as Daniel Patrick Kestner. He was arrested and charged with battery, a misdemeanor.
Police said Kestner, a 51-year-old resident of St. Augustine, Fla., was found to be intoxicated and taken to Orange County Jail, according to an arrest affidavit.
When Williams posted the video on Twitter, Rep. Sabatini (R) weighed in with a response: “MAGA.”
— Michael Williams (@michaeldamianw) June 19, 2019
“We are fortunate Michael was not hurt, grateful to the Orlando police for their quick action, and proud of all our reporters for their courage and dedication to our community,” the Sentinel said in a statement after the attack.
Sabatini told The Post on Wednesday that he comments “MAGA” on Sentinel coverage that he deems “biased and slanted.”
The lawmaker said he also wanted to show how “so-called journalists” abandon their neutrality and act like activists.
“And so, all I had to do was put something I think would irk them on a page without any cognitive content — nothing that would actually speak about my position on the matter that they were trying to depict in the news piece at all … but they just ran with it as fast as they could,” Sabatini said.