Conservative Writer Patrick Howley Claimed He Infiltrated Protest Group at Air and Space

pat howley standoff

A writer for conservative publication American Spectator claims to have "infiltrated" the protest group that rallied in Freedom Plaza this weekend and tried to gain entrance to the Air and Space museum.

Patrick Howley said he did it to write a blog entry.  In his October 8 story, Howley boasts he was the only one among the small protest group that actually made it through the museum's doors. 

His description of events describes a writer actively injecting himself into a story he purports to be covering.  Howley writes he masqueraded as a protester "for journalistic purposes," in order to find out if the protest movement was "dangerous." 

Howley writes:

"But as far as anyone knew I was part of this cause -- a cause that I had infiltrated the day before -- and I wasn't giving up before I had my story. Under a cloud of pepper spray I forced myself into the doors.

After sneaking past the guard at the first entrance, I found myself trapped in a small entranceway outside the second interior door behind a muscle-bound left-wing fanatic and a heavyset guard. The fanatic shoved the guard and the guard shoved back, hard, sending this comrade -- and, by domino effect, me -- sprawling against the wall."

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum was forced to close early on Saturday, when a scuffle broke out between approximately 100 protesters and the museum's guards. Some of the protesters later said they had gone to the museum to protest an exhibit on unmanned drones.

Smithsonian spokesperson John Gibbons told the AP that the protesters attempted to enter the museum carrying political signs when they were intercepted by security, and some were pepper-sprayed.  D.C. Fire reported treating a dozen people with irritated eyes at the scene, but with no serious injury.

In his blog post, Howley, listed as an assistant editor, heaps scorn on the other members of the protest:

"But just as the lefties couldn't figure out how to run their assembly meeting (many process points, I'm afraid to report, were left un-twinkled), so too do they lack the nerve to confront authority. From estimates within the protest, only ten people were pepper-sprayed, and as far as I could tell I was the only one who got inside the museum."

However, other members of the protest group posted photos that seem to contradict this account.  One picture posted at the website appears to show other protesters inside the museum, unfurling a banner from the museum's second floor.

Howley concludes his piece a final chest-thumping paragraph, in which he describes the pride he felt for getting pepper-sprayed.  Praising the guards, he wrote, "I deserved to get a face full of high-grade pepper."

You can read his journalistic account of Saturday's events here.

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