Armed guards are planned at San Diego-based One America News Network on Saturday to “ensure employee safety” amid a scheduled protest, according to an internal memo.
“There will be an increased security presence onsite,” wrote news director Chris Schickedanz in a staff memo Friday obtained by Times of San Diego.
“The police are aware of the situation and are monitoring,” the memo added. “The gate will be locked and employee badges will be required for entry. There will be no entry or exit between the hours of 11a & 4p.”
Schickedanz didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
But late Friday, CEO and founder Robert Herring Sr. confirmed via email: “We do have armed guards, but I don’t think telling everyone who, when and where would be very smart.”
He said OAN was working with the San Diego Police Department “and have great respect for them. We have no fear as you know we are well taken care of.”
As for critics of the media outlet: “I wish they would watch news and educate themselves on what is going on.”
Earlier, Herring’s Trump-friendly cable network raised the hackles of the congressman who represents the Bay Ho business.
On Tuesday, Rep. Scott Peters called on OANN to issue a public apology and retraction of a story about the injury of a 75-year-old man by police in Buffalo, New York.
With no evidence to back up the claims, a recent OANN segment alleged that the man, identified as Martin Gugino, was an agitator and “Antifa provocateur.”
President Trump then shared the accusation on Twitter, claiming the man was appearing to scan police communications to jam the equipment.
Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2020
“This is not responsible journalism,” the 52nd District rep said in a statement. “The divisiveness and fear-mongering One America News Network has no place in San Diego. These dangerous and unsubstantiated accusations seek to distract from the goals of peaceful protesters who want to see important changes in our country.”
Peters said that the managers, news directors, producers and writers at the Morena Boulevard business have the opportunity to right a wrong. “These false stories only stoke division at a time when our country needs to come together,” he said. “Our citizens deserve better than this.”
John Brunelle of La Mesa is one of the organizers of the Saturday protest. He said he was made aware of the staff email earlier Friday.
“I’m honestly not too concerned with it,” he said. “Our plan is to have a peaceful protest that draws attention to the fact that OANN is based out of San Diego and does not represent the values of our community. We have absolutely no intention of causing and disturbances or problems for anybody present at the facility on Saturday.”
A 40-year-old stagehand and video specialist with IATSE Local 122, Brunelle said he wasn’t certain how many people would turn out for the protest — one of several planned in San Diego on Saturday on various issues.
“I was honestly hoping for a small but passionate group, but it seems that things may have gained a bit of momentum,” he said via text. “If I had to guess, I would say maybe around 100 participants should show up.”
Krystin Cline, 28, another protest organizer, said the decision to bring in armed guards was “just as inappropriate as having militarized police.”
Also a La Mesan and IATSE Local 122 stagehand, she added: “It’s better to try to inspire change and respect then to go directly to fear and intimidation.”
The 160-word employee memo went on to say: “You need to be here, or gone for the day, by 11 (a.m.) … or be willing to wait until 4 (p.m.) This is being done to ensure no one is able to get into the facility with the gate opening and closing during the planned rally time.”
The protest was promoted on social media, including a Facebook event page.
Updated at 12:30 a.m. July 13, 2020