Several right-wing activists showed up to protest a Production of Julius Caesar at the Free Shakespeare in the Park performance in New York City on Friday night. The play has provoked considerable controversy because the actor playing the part of Caesar, who is assassinated during the climax of the production, bears a strong resemblance to President Donald Trump.
During the scene where Caesar is slain, One activist rushed the stage shouting “Stop the normalization of political violence against the right! This is unacceptable!” She was escorted off of the stage and out of the theater by security and was later arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. She was identified as Laura Loomer, a known activist who works for the website Rebel Media.
Almost simultaneously with Loomer’s outburst, another pro-Trump activist, Jack Posobiec, stood up in his seat and began shouting at the crowd. “You are all Goebbels!” and “The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands!” He yelled. These statements referred back to the Nazi supporter Joseph Goebbels and the recent shooting of Representative Steve Scalise. He was also escorted from the theater but states that he was not arrested or charged. Posobiec, also a former employee of Rebel Media, further holds that, although he is familiar and even friendly with Laura Loomer, they did not coordinate their protests.
The conduct of Loomer and Posobiec has created a buzz on social media with people from all sides sharing their thoughts and opinions. Posobiec tweeted that he and Loomer shut down the production of Julius Caesar, but the theater responded that the play was only interrupted for about a minute and that their stage manager and security guards handled the situation wonderfully. Posobiec also stated that audience members were cheering and applauding when the Trump look-alike playing Cesar was slain. However, Michael Cooper, a writer for the New York Times who was also present, countered that he heard none of that.
Because of the controversy surrounding the production; several sponsors, most notably Delta Airlines and Bank of America, have withdrawn their support for the Free Shakespeare in the Park program. Delta states that regardless of whether you’re a Trump supporter or not, it doesn’t want to be represented by that kind of violent political statement within the production.
The protest has raised many questions about free speech and how far it can be taken. Some argue that a theater in Minnesota put on this same production of Julius Caesar back in 2012 with an actor who looked like Barack Obama who was president at the time. In that instance, there were no protests and no sponsors withdrew their support.