Donald Trump Rally Turns Violent, Protester Injured
On Saturday, a rally for the Donald Trump campaign erupted in violence when rally attendees attacked a protester who disrupted Trump’s speech. The rally attendees shoved, tackled, punched and kicked the protester, reportedly causing numerous injuries. Trump is currently the Republican front-runner for the presidential nomination and there were several thousand supporters at the rally.
The protester at the center of the melee is Mercutio Southall, a 31-year-old activist who co-founded a Black Lives Matter chapter in Birmingham. Southall and two other activists entered Trump’s rally at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex with tickets. The protesters planned to protest the rhetoric Trump engages in on the campaign trail that incites divisiveness and intolerance of others.
The original plan had been to protest outside the event entrance with roughly a dozen other activists, but police outside the event moved them away from the entrance. Southall and the other protesters inside the event began chanting “Dump the Trump” and “Black Lives Matter” during Trump’s speech. That’s when 6 white Trump supporters attacked Southall, beating him to the ground.
Southall described his injuries as extensive and even described being choked on the ground during the altercation. A woman in the video can be heard shouting, “Don’t choke him,” over and over. The people who attacked him also hurled racial slurs at him and his two fellow protesters, according to Southall. On the video CNN recorded of the incident, the slurs cannot be heard
Trump tried to continue on with his speech as the beating occurred, then remarked, “Get ’em the hell out of here.” Some are saying that it is unlikely Trump could see the confrontation unfold from his vantage point on the stage. His campaign quickly released a statement saying it “does not condone” the physical altercation.
However, less than 24 hours after the campaign statement was released, Donald Trump made a statement that suggested that the white attendees at his campaign rally may have reacted appropriately towards the black protester. On Sunday, Trump said in an interview with Fox News, “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”Trump was not asked by the Fox News hosts about the comments made by his campaign.
After Black Lives Matter activists disrupted a Bernie Sanders campaign event in August, Trump warned that if the same happened at one of his events, they would have a fight on their hands. Back then, Trump said,”I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself, or if other people will.”
Southall said he intends to press charges against those who assaulted him. He mentioned that the police officers who escorted him out of the event never asked him if he wished to do so. Southall also claims that the police officers did not offer him medical attention. Birmingham Police Lt. Sean Edwards, the department’s public information officer, said in a statement that Southall did not ask to press charges and did not require medical attention.