As the NYPD violently resisted a Black Lives Matter protest near Union Square, one brave white guy proudly stood and announced that “White Lives Matter!” at the top of his lungs… repeatedly.
The NYPD’s unreasonable response, however, was just one of the many things that were wrong with that night. Saviero “Sam” Pugliese, when he was not reminding people that Caucasian lives matter, seemed content to wish rape upon the crowd.
As freelance documentary filmmaker Betty Yu and a group of protesters passed by Pugliese as he was eating at Momoya, a sushi restaurant, he stormed outside and accosted the protesters. “I could see his hands flailing. He was charging towards the crowd,” Yu recalled. According to Gothamist reporter Christopher Robbins, the man screamed obscenities, “White lives matter,” and even told women in the crowd that they should be raped:
“A group of about 50 or so protesters were marching up the sidewalk towards Times Square. He [the suspect] was outside the restaurant screaming obscenities and ‘White lives matter! My life matters!’ He was clearly provoking the protesters who were walking by, getting in their faces, and telling some of the women that they should be ‘raped.’ He seemed intoxicated.”
When Yu attempted to take a picture of Pugliese, he attacked her with her own camera, according to Yu:
“Someone yelled, ‘Get a picture!’ I turned as he was trying to walk away, and I wasn’t more than three feet away from him, and I had my camera on. He said, ‘I hope you get raped tonight,’ and of course I’m trying to get a photo of him, and he lunged forward, and he grabbed the lens of my camera to get leverage, and pushed the lens into my face.
“It was kind of comical that he hit me with my own camera. He went for my nose and my viewing screen cracked, and he knocked out my contact lens. I wish I could have clicked, but he was so forceful that when I had my finger on the shutter he literally took the lens and smashed it into my face.”
Initially, when Yu reported the assault, police refused to do anything.
“I said, ‘I got hit in the face with a camera. Please do something.'” Yu explained. “He looked at me deadpan and said, ‘What do you want me to do? I don’t see you hurt. I don’t see your nose bleeding.'”
After his arrest, Pugliese contacted Gothamist, vehemently denying yelling “White lives matter” or even wishing rape upon people:
Pugliese recalls things differently. He told us that he was waiting outside the restaurant for a table when he noticed what he believed to be a bomb on the sidewalk. ‘I thought I saw a bomb on the corner,’ he said. ‘And I was trying to help people without getting hurt.’ He went on to describe the bomb in detail. ‘It was a big black tube filled with neon lights and it was very heavy. It was like a telescope, basically.’
Pugliese said that he feared for the safety of the protestors who were ‘trying to protest peacefully,’ and ‘grabbed’ a police officer to inspect the situation. Things became tense when, he alleges, a Lieutenant started taking pictures of him. Then someone, he’s not sure who, ran off with the ‘bomb.’ Pugliese began to walk down the block in the direction the bomb-toter had fled. When he turned back towards the restaurant, Pugliese recalls, ‘I had like 50 people taking pictures of me. I was flipping out because I was so scared.’
Yes, he is truly the victim — persecuted because he was “searching” for an imaginary bomb. Here’s how he explains the rape remarks:
Some girl starts yelling at me, and I guess I [said] ‘God forbid if you get raped, who are you going to call? You’re going to call the cops, right? So just be nice to them.’ Then some Asian girl is taking a picture of me and I turn, and my elbow or my hand pushed the camera away. That’s what happened. I didn’t assault anybody. I didn’t hurt anybody.
Unfortunately for Pugliese, video exists:
“They tell you, ‘You see something, you say something’? I was just trying to tell them [the police and protesters] that there was a bomb or something,” Pugliese told Gothamist. “I guess maybe you can’t say anything. I ended up getting locked up for nothing.”
It’s always entertaining to watch people attempt to weasel their way out of things once they get caught. Jala’s Facebook page, surprisingly, has not yet filled with negative reviews, as is custom, though it lists the business as “permanently closed.”
Featured Image via Gothamist