Activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham says Fox News reporter spit on her
Reporter Leland Holt Vittert denies claims saying he can't imagine her struggles, but knows he 'was not a part of them'
Activist and author, Brittany Packnett Cunningham revealed on Twitter a day ago that it was Fox News reporter, Leland Holt Vittert, who spit on her when the two went to prep school together 20 years ago.
While attending John Burroughs School in the affluent suburbs of St. Louis, Cunningham was one of only four Black girls in her grade. She alleged that Vittert regularly harassed her after she founded the school’s first “diversity club.”
I try my best to live my values. Integrity. Truth. Not hate of people, but love for justice.
I’ve been learning how to convert the energy of oppression into righteous fuel for a long time.
— brittany packnett cunningham does not do remixes. (@MsPackyetti) May 30, 2020
In a previously written essay, published in 2017, Cunningham described her attacker only as “Privileged Pete.”
“Pete decided the best way to prove racism wasn’t real was to be more racist and harass me.” Cunningham wrote, according to the St. Louis American. “When he’d catch me between classes, he’d walk up close behind me and repeatedly ask if his presence was oppressive, walking me all the way to my next class. You read that right: he was actively harassing me while asking me if he was oppressive.”
In a series of 16 tweets, Cunningham wrote that she decided to finally reveal her attacker’s name after seeing people sympathize with Vittert who was attacked while reporting from protests outside of the White House.
“We took a good thumping,” Vittert told The Associated Press. He was interrupted by a group of protesters who shouted, “F**k Fox News.“
As social media posts empathizing with Vittert emerged comparing his ordeal to that of CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez who was arrested on-air while covering protests in Minneapolis, Packnett-Cunningham made her posts.
“I remembered that even behind the shield of journalism and the protection of whiteness, his racism is not bigger than my power. Never will be.”
“I’ve told this *story* before but always hid his name. Even when he reported from the streets of Baltimore where I protested,” she wrote. “I share it today not for karma, but because, as we rise up, I want it understood: We don’t ever have to relinquish our power to those who oppress us.”
In a statement, Vittert said, “I can’t imagine the struggles Ms. Cunningham has faced in her life. But I was not a part of them. I can say unequivocally — I have never spit on or at anybody.”
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