The two Ryan Lochte protesters who rushed the "Dancing With the Stars" ballroom stage during last night's Season 23 premiere are standing by their actions -- and even complimented the LAPD after a "nice" time in jail -- but one questioned why he had to be tackled quite so hard by DWTS security.
TMZ talked to Barzeen Soroudi, 25, and Sam Sotoodeh, 59, after their anti-Ryan Lochte protest, asking if they wanted to hurt Lochte. "No not at all," Soroudi said. "It was just a protest, not a violent protest."
What was their objective? Soroudi said they were in Brazil for the Olympics when Lochte's "over-exaggerated" story caused problems for other Americans like themselves. As he explained:
"We didn't agree, obviously, with Walt Disney company choosing Lochte to represent Americans. Yes, he did receive gold medals, but what he did in Rio did not represent Americans well. ... We were actually at the Olympics. So what happened was, once Lochte did what he did -- embarrassed Americans, lied to Brazil -- the climate changed. So all of a sudden Americans became targets in Rio. Brazilians obviously felt insulted, and it became very difficult for many Americans there. I want Americans to know, we want the world to know, that we don't take what he did lightly. He embarrassed Americans on the world stage and this is our form of protest against that."
He said jail time was "absolutely" worth it. "I gotta give the LAPD credit, it was very nice, everyone was very professional, very courteous. In fact, I wouldn't mind going back."
Meanwhile, the 59-year-old Sotoodeh did have some complaints about the extreme tackle he received at the hands of DWTS security. First, watch what happened:
Here's Sotoodeh's response to TMZ the next day:
"I don't understand why the people there did that. I was not even going toward Lochte, I was in a different direction. This guy runs out, unnecessarily tackles me and hurts me. You can see I have bruises and back also hurts, my neck hurts. Why? He could've come and said, 'Please get off the stage' ... and handled it in a civilized manner. Then, as he was taking me out, he punched me and kicked me."
He said the message they want to get out is that "Lochte is a coward, a liar, and under Brazilian law, a criminal."
Ryan Lochte's pro partner Cheryl Burke tweeted her thanks to security after the incident:
Ryan and Cheryl will dance again this coming Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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