John McGraw (right), 78, has been charged with assault and disorderly conduct after the punch.
Multiple videos 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 yesterday and are shot from different perspectives, show an African American 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 man extends 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.
Rakeem Jones, the man who was hit, 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.”
John McGraw, 78, was charged with assault and disorderly conduct in connection with the incident, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sean Swain told the Post yesterday.
McGraw was due to appear in court next month, Swain said.
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton addressed the incident during an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
“Count me among those who are truly distraught and even appalled by a lot of what I see going on, what I hear being said,” Clinton said. “You know, you don’t make America great by, you know, dumping on everything that made America great, like freedom of speech and assembly and, you know, the right of people to protest.
“As the campaign goes further, more and more Americans are going to be really disturbed by the kind of campaign [Trump is] running,” Clinton added.
Jones said he and four friends – a “diverse” group that included a white woman, a Muslim and a gay man – had gone to the rally as a “social experiment”. He said the woman with them started shouting once Trump’s speech began. “She shouted, but at the same time, they were shouting too,” Jones, a 26-year-old inventory associate, said. “No one in our group attempted to get physical.”
Jones blamed the Cumberland County officers escorting him from the rally for failing to protect him – then detaining him instead of the man who attacked him.
“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: “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.”
Swain, however, said he didn’t think the officers who were filmed coming up the stairs saw what happened to Jones.
The incident is now the subject of an internal review, Swain said.
“No one should be subjected to such a cowardly, unprovoked act as that committed by McGraw,” Sheriff Earl Butler said in a statement posted to Facebook.
In footage published by the Inside Edition TV show, a man identified as McGraw is asked if he liked the event.
“You bet I liked it,” he says.
When asked what he liked, he responds: “Knocking the hell out of that big mouth.
“We don’t know who he is, but we know he’s not acting like an American,” McGraw added.
“The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
Ronnie C Rouse, who shot one of the videos, was with Jones at the rally.
“We’re definitely anti-Trump,” Rouse told the Post.
The 32-year-old musician said that as soon as Trump’s speech began, someone in the crowd singled out him and his friends, screaming, “You need to get the f*** out of there!”
Rouse said his group had not said anything and the comment was unprovoked. But he said they were almost immediately surrounded by eight Cumberland County sheriff officers, who escorted them out.
On the way up the stairs, he said, the attack came. He said someone in the crowd shouted, “Go home n*****s”.
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.
According to CBS New York, 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”.
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.”