Washington, D.C., police confronted conservative commentator Benny Johnson as he was attempting to hand out "free East Palestine water," a video posted to YouTube showed. Johnson had set up a table in front of the Department of Transportation, where Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg works.
The stunt was meant as a knock on Buttigieg. He along with other officials have claimed the water in East Palestine, Ohio, was safe to drink despite the vinyl chloride chemical spill and ensuing controlled burn that have residents alarmed.
Johnson decided to take to the streets to see the reaction of handing out tap water ostensibly from the town where the derailment occurred. "I've decided to create the East Palestine Water Company and hand out free bottles of East Palestine water, Ohio, straight from the tap," he said.
"It has all of the nutrients of vinyl chloride, all of the rainbow sheen you've come to expect inside the small little destroyed town of East Palestine because of the incompetence of people in this building," Johnson added, pointing behind him to the government building. "I can't wait to see their reactions to this special new company," he added.
The next scene in the video showed Johnson in front of a plastic table set out on the sidewalk with several unmarked water bottles on top. The sign said "FREE EAST PALESTINE WATER" and, according to a title card in the video, elicited a response from security within "37 seconds."
Johnson was confronted by a uniformed officer and a gentleman with an official-looking lanyard ID whom he attempted to goad into drinking the water. "I hear it's delicious," Johnson said.
"Well, I hear you have a bottle of water with no label on it, so I don't kind of drink things that don't have a label where I know where they come from," the man with the ID stated. A title card in the video showed a still of Johnson's sign with an arrow for emphasis that it was supposedly from the beleaguered town.
Johnson continued, and the man declined again. Then the conservative commentator opened a bottle for himself, took a swig, and said it "tastes like vinyl chloride."
The video continued with Johnson offering passersby the water - with very few takers -- and the attempts to shut down this demonstration. A traffic cone was allegedly put behind his vehicle despite it being parked in a legal spot.
The crew was forced to move the table from in front of the building to a spot down the block. Johnson complied but protested, citing his First Amendment rights that allow him to demonstrate in front of the Department of Transportation.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I think it's fair to say East Palestine Water Company is a booming success in Washington D.C.," Johnson began in his wrap-up to the video. "Multiple people took our bottles of water," he said.
"Multiple employees of the Department of Transportation laughed at us, called security on us, called the cops on us, threatened us," Johnson claimed. "Isn't that great? What a day to be here represented by your federal servants like Pete Buttigieg."
"Pete clearly didn't want us around," Johnson continued. "Unfortunately, the secretary himself didn't show up. I got a bottle right here for you, Petey. It's free, and it's ready for you," Johnson said, addressing the transportation secretary.
Buttigieg dropped the ball when it came to handling train derailment and vinyl chloride spill disaster in East Palestine. Even if the officials all claim the water is safe to drink, skepticism abounds based on common sense and experience with lying government officials.