Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has been dividing people since he decided to run for the highest office in the country. Voters sometimes have problems with his tone, his message and even his basic ideas about how the country should be run. Others have issues with his blatant racism, bigotry and misogyny. Most of those disputes are about issues that people can talk about. The disagreements are settled through words, protests and even television commercials. They are not usually settled by violence. This started to change months ago when Trump supporters at rallies began getting physical with anyone who dared disagree with the billionaire businessman.
The reports seemed isolated at first. Protestors were showing up at a large number of Trump rallies across the country. Those people would try to interrupt Trump’s speeches, hold up signs against his policies or just stand in the seats wearing a shirt disparaging of the candidate’s positions. It was not long before his supporters started attempting to push those people physically out of the various venues. Videos show that mob scenes developed around protestors. People were pushed to the ground, handled roughly and sometimes kicked once on the floor. It quickly became clear that the violence against peaceful protestors was not an anomaly. It was happening all the time.
Donald Trump did not do much to help the situation. He has been seen on stage directly and indirectly inciting violence from his fanatical followers. Trump has said in the past that his supporters should “rough them up” when protestors appear. He offered to pay for the legal expenses for any supporter who gets charged with assault. He has even expressed his own wishes to physically assault someone protesting his candidacy. It was inevitable that the violence would escalate as the fervor over a Trump presidency increased.
Trump was holding a campaign rally in North Carolina. An African-American man named Rakeem Jones had decided to go out to the rally to protest Donald Trump peacefully. It is important to remember that protesting is a right in America and something that is part of the history of this country. Jones was quickly identified as a protestor and lead out of the venue by authorities. He was walking up the stairs towards the exit when 78-year-old John McGraw stepped towards him. McGraw lifted his arm and elbowed Jones in the face for no apparent reason. Chaos ensued for a moment. The sheriff escorting Jones decided to ignore McGraw and instead handcuffed the protestor.
The fallout from this incident should have been embarrassing for the Trump campaign. McGraw was charged with assault soon afterwards. McGraw actually gave interviews where he said supporters might have to “kill him” if Jones shows up at another rally. He also bragged about hitting the young man and claimed he could have been a terrorist from the Middle East. The Trump campaign attempted to brush the issue off giving a variety of excuses from blaming Jones for the incident to calling the assault exercise for McGraw.
There is little wonder why this is happening. Donald Trump has managed to tap into the basest fears of some people in the county. He has convinced many people that there is a coalition of Muslims, liberals and minorities all banding together to take the country down and kill them. Although these types of paranoid conspiracy theories seem far-fetched to rational people, they are embraced whole-heartedly by many Trump supporters. This has resulted in thinking that violence against other citizens is somehow justified to “make America great again” in the words of the Trump campaign. There is no telling just how far this type of violence at the Trump rallies will go before something changes.