An unmasked protester who was photographed screaming in the face of two police officers at the Michigan Capitol last week has come forward with his side of the story behind the image that’s become a symbol of the wild demonstrations.
Brian Cash, 52, was one of the hundreds of protesters – some carrying rifles and many not wearing masks – who descended on the capitol building in Lansing on April 30 to condemn Gov Whitmer’s coronavirus shutdown orders.
Stunning photos of the chaotic scene made headlines nationwide – including of Cash mid-scream just inches away from state troopers blocking the crowds as they tried to rush the House chamber.
‘Yes, that’s me,’ Cash told the Detroit Free Press when asked to confirm whether he is the man in the photo captured by AFP photographer Jeff Kowalsky.
The 52-year-old flooring installer from New Hudson said he’s participated in four protests in Lansing in the weeks since Whitmer issued a strict stay-at-home order he described as ‘just ridiculous’.
Asked about what was happening in the famous photo, he insisted: ‘I didn’t scream in anybody’s face.’
Brian Cash, 52, is seen shouting in front of two police officers at the Michigan Capitol during a protest against the state’s stay-at-home order on April 30
Cash explained that he wasn’t yelling at the visible officers but at another one behind them, who he said he had witnessed assault a woman the day before.
He was referencing an incident on April 29 in which three women were forcibly removed from the House chamber’s public gallery.
A video of an officer removing one of the women went viral – prompting Michigan State Police to announce that they were investigating the encounter.
Cash said the photo showed the moment after he spotted the man who he thought was the same officer.
‘I was there chanting: ‘Let us in,’ and I saw that guy and I just, I just kind of lost it a little bit,’ Cash recalled.
He said that he was asking the officer ‘if he wanted to try to throw me around like he did that girl yesterday’.
The ‘American Patriot Rally’, drew widespread criticism and allegations of racism as some of the demonstrators were seen carrying Confederate flags and swastikas, along with assault weapons.
Cash, who said he was not armed at the protest, rejected the racism allegations and blamed the media, which he said ‘twists everything’.
He described the protest as ‘awesome’ and said ‘anybody of any color should have the right to do what I did’.
He also said he’s happy with the national attention that protest and others in Michigan have garnered.
‘I love it,’ he said. ‘We got the ball rolling.’
With regard to the picture, Cash said he’s received hundreds of Facebook messages about it – some of them supportive and others critical.
‘I love it. It’s great,’ he said, adding that people have ‘their right to disagree and call me names’.
The Free Press noted that Cash admitted to being high during their interview.
‘If I’m awake, I’m high,’ the self-proclaimed marijuana activist said. ‘But I’m not really high; I’m normal.’
Explaining why he’s so firmly against Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, Cash said he is ‘not at all’ concerned about coronavirus – noting that he believes it was intentionally leaked by the Chinese government.
He said he doesn’t see ‘the point of staying home’ because people are still going to places like grocery stores and pharmacies – and that he won’t wear a mask ‘ever’ because he doesn’t believe they protect people.
Cash expressed dislike for both Democrats and Republicans, the Free Press reported, and said he had never voted before the 2016 ‘because f*** the government, you know?’
He voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary and then Donald Trump in the general.