Last night at a Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a violent Donald Trump supporter sucker-punched a Black protester who was being escorted out of the venue.
Since the incident, videos — from various perspectives — trended on social media platforms early Thursday morning.
In one of the many videos, the Black protester is seen wearing a white shirt and reddish pants as he is walked up the stairs of the venue. Suddenly, a white man with a black hat, striped red shirt and black vest punches the protester for no apparent reason.
A protester in a black shirt starts to confront the assailant, but authorities continued to get him out of the venue. The Black protester in white was tackled to the ground, and Cumberland County officers escorted him out of the building as well. There is no real information on the assailant as of yet — his name has not been revealed by media.
The Washington Post talked to the Black protesters involved in the incident. Rakeem Jones — the man who was assaulted— said the punch came out of nowhere.
“Boom, he caught me,” Jones told The Washington Post in a telephone interview. “After I get it, before I could even gain my thoughts, I’m on the ground getting escorted out. Now I’m waking up this morning looking at the news and seeing me getting hit again.”
The 26-year-old protester said his eye still hurts and that he did not expect this sort of thing to happen in such a diverse area as Fayetteville.
“It’s happening at all these rallies now, and they’re letting it ride,” Jones said. “The police jumped on me like I was the one swinging.” He added: “My eye still hurts. It’s just shocking. The shock of it all is starting to set in. It’s like this dude really hit me and they let him get away with it. I was basically in police custody and got hit.”
According to other protesters at the event, the crowd allegedly hurled racist slurs: “Go home n—–s.” As soon as they were spotted, a target was placed on their backs and authorities were notified.
New York Daily News social justice reporter Shaun King was one of the first to report on the event. He shared the video to his followers this morning via Twitter, and many were split between supporting the protesters and denouncing them.
Help me identify the racist Trump supporter who repeatedly punched this protestor in the face last night.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) March 10, 2016
@ShaunKing how do you know he’s racist? Just because one guy is white and one is black? Your obsessed with race bro.
— Drew Mann (@DrewMannTN) March 10, 2016
— Jennifer Howell (@jenhowell77) March 10, 2016
It's the police that need to be arrested and locked up not just the man who violently assaulted a protester @ShaunKing
— ARTIST TAXI DRIVER (@chunkymark) March 10, 2016
— d.m. (@missuhappybird) March 10, 2016
@ShaunKing the cops went after the guy who got assaulted completely avoiding the assailant… This is America if trump is elected.
— C (@odddiaz_) March 10, 2016
This type of violence toward protesters has been encouraged by the Republican front-runner. In one instance, after a protester was escorted out, Trump said in late February:
“I love our police, and … honestly, I hate to see that. Here’s a guy, throwing punches, nasty as hell, screaming at everything else when we’re talking. The guards are very gentle with him. He’s walking out, like big high-fives, smiling, laughing. I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you,” he said.
The fact that this man may become the leader of the free world is frightening and alarming to most voters. There have been instances of spitting, violently kicking, hitting, shoving protesters and attacking journalists. It is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or worse.
Update: The 78- year old assailant who punched Jones has been identified as John McGraw and charged with battery. The incident has also launched a police probe investigating why the Black protesters were arrested after the punching. Sgt. Sean Swain of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said the matter is now being investigated by the office’s internal affairs unit.