Multiple videos appear to show a protester at a Donald Trump rally in North Carolina being sucker-punched by a Trump supporter.
The videos, which appeared on social media early Thursday, are shot from different perspectives, and appear to show an African American man with long hair wearing a white T-shirt leaving the Trump rally as the audience boos. He is being led out of the rally by men in uniforms that read “Sheriff’s Office.” The protester may have extended a middle finger to the audience on his way out.
Then, out of nowhere, the man is punched in the face by a pony-tailed man, who appears to be white, in a cowboy hat, black vest and pink shirt as the crowd begins to cheer.
The protester stumbles away, and then is detained by a number of the men in uniforms, who handcuff him while he is on the ground.
“Chill, chill!” an onlooker says. “You don’t gotta grab him like that!”
Fayetteville is in Cumberland County, N.C., but an official from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, reached by The Washington Post, said officers from that jurisdiction were not the ones who detained the man. The Fayetteville Police Department also told The Post they did not detain anyone at the rally, held at the city’s Crown Coliseum.
Social media posts identified the man who was punched by his Instagram and Twitter handles; messages to him were not immediately returned, nor were messages to those who shot the videos.
Trump rallies are getting a reputation for violence by Trump supporters against disruptive protesters. Police in Fayetteville had to form a line separating pro and anti-Trump groups outside the coliseum.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Photo / AP
According to CBSNewYork, police are investigating at least two alleged assaults at a recent Kentucky rally. One involved a young African-American woman who was repeatedly shoved and called “scum.”
Trump himself has not been quick to criticise the violence. After a fight erupted between protesters and police last year in Birmingham, Trump said: “‘Maybe he should have been roughed up.” Of a protester in Nevada last month, Trump said: “I’d like to punch him in the face.” In Kentucky, he said: “Get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do I’ll defend you in court. . . . Are Trump rallies the most fun? We’re having a good time.”
According to CBSNewYork, he referred to an incident at a New Hampshire rally where a protester started “swinging and punching.” Trump said some people in the audience “took him out.”
“It was really amazing to watch,” he said.
At the Fayetteville rally, Trump called protesters “professional troublemakers,” as ABC reported. As video posted by the Fayetteville News-Observer shows, his speech was repeatedly interrupted as protesters were escorted out and the crowd chanted “U.S.A.!” He criticized one protester for wearing a “very dirty undershirt.”