A video of a man harassing a journalist minutes before she went on air has gone viral on social media and left users frustrated and angry.
Noelle D Lilley, a News 12 reporter in New York, was preparing to go live when a man in a black jacket touched her shoulder and said “347”.
“You guys have a good day,” responded Lilley, without looking up from her phone. The man, who had just passed her by, came back and repeated the numbers again.
She looked over her shoulder and asked: “What’s 347 mean?” He responded with another string of numbers.
Visibly uncomfortable, Ms Lilley moved slightly away from him and asked him what the numbers meant. “That’s my number,” the man said. He adds more but it is not audible and is lost in the sound of traffic.
“Yeah, thank you so much,” Ms Lilley responded. “I am kind of in the middle of something,” she added pointing at the camera as the man continued to hover around her.
“Thank you so much. Now, if you don’t mind me getting back to work,” she said, trying to ward off his attempt to engage her. The reporter took her position, ready to go live and told the man again: “I am not scared, I would just like to finish.”
Sharing the 53-second video, Ms Lilley wrote on Twitter: “Just another day being a woman in the world! The amount of times that I deal with street harassment as a female journalist who works alone is exhausting. Notice how quickly this man got angry when I tried to *politely* dismiss him so I could DO MY JOB.”
She added: “And before anyone tries to tell me what I should or should not have done, remember that there’s no ‘right way’ to respond to street harassment or someone making you feel unsafe.”
“When you ignore them, they get violent. When you engage, they feel encouraged,” she said.
The video has been seen over 720,000 times and received over 10,000 retweets. She also received support from several others on social media, including colleagues. Some users said such videos made them “physically angry” and reminded them if times they’d gone through similar incidents and felt the “fear and frustration” of just doing their job.
“This is disgusting behavior. You handled it with class and respect, Noelle,” wrote Jim Murdoch, another journalist with News 12.
“Y’all have got to stop,” wrote Rochelle Alleyne, journalist with ABC Action News.
“Men really just don’t know when to quit, do they?” asked WTVM journalist Lauren Linahan.
Some users also pointed out that it was absurd that people still thought “touching others” was appropriate despite the pandemic. “And that’s on top of lack of respect for your space, time, & self-autonomy. It’s like he felt you didn’t have choice but to interact with him. Glad you’re safe,” a Twitter user wrote to Ms Lilley.
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