This article was originally published on Huffpost Politics on March 11, 2016 by Jason Linkins.
Earlier this week, our 2016 campaign season’s sui generis “dog bites man” story hit the headlines again, after Rakeem Jones — attending a Donald Trump rally in North Carolina as a dissenter — was sucker punched by 78-year-old John McGraw. Here is the incident, captured in GIF form:
Asked to comment on the incident at the most recent debate, Trump did what he has always done — tepidly sidestepped the issue before offering an endorsement of this sort of violence. His supporters, he said, “have anger that’s unbelievable,” and it’s “a beautiful thing in many respects.”
And while Trump told CNN’s moderators Thursday night that he does not condone the violence, the truth is, he does. In November, activist Mercutio Southall was involved in an altercation at a Trump rally in Alabama, where New York Magazine writes he was “reportedly punched, kicked, and choked by an unknown number of attendees.” Responding to the incident, Trump said Southall “maybe should have been roughed up.”
And after a Nevada rally was briefly disrupted by protestors, Trump offered a lengthy and nostalgic disquisition on his love of violent retribution:
“He’s smiling. See, he’s having a good time,” Trump said of a protester who was being escorted out by guards. “Oh, I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days, you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks. Oh, it’s true.”
Trump went on to complain that “the guards are very gentle with him,” before saying, “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”
Well, McGraw, the culprit in the assault pictured above, has now been charged with “assault and battery, disorderly conduct and communicating threats,” according to Fayetteville, North Carolina’s WNCN. And those “threats” that were “communicated” are a real doozy. Per McGraw: “The next time we see [Jones], we might have to kill him.”
Of course, if the judicial system in North Carolina can manage some degree of competence, McGraw could soon find himself is deep trouble, given the clear video evidence of an unprovoked assault and the thorny matter of him having confessed to the crime: “You bet I liked it. Knocking the hell out of that big mouth.” Fortunately for McGraw, Trump has pledged to dig into his own wealth to help him out with his legal defense. As The Week’s Jeva Lange reported back in February:
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them,” Trump urged his supporters. Were anyone to feel concern about being prosecuted for assault in such a scenario, Trump reassured that, “I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
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