Donald Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement haven't exactly been close allies during the Republican presidential candidate's campaign, but a confrontation between Donald's supporters and one of the group's activists at a Saturday rally in Birmingham went from antagonistic to violent.
When Mercutio Southall, 31, began to chant "Black Lives Matter" during Trump's speech, a group of people attending the event attempted to silence him with force. CNN's resident Donald campaign reporter caught most of the altercation on video.
A black protester at Trump's rally today in Alabama was shoved, tackled, punched & kicked: https://t.co/Aq0wuaAtax pic.twitter.com/cTRDMtjuBlThe Black Lives Matter activist later told CNN that he had been "shoved, tackled, punched, and kicked" while around six Donald supporters yelled "n****r" and "monkey" at him and other black attendees. Southall also says he was choked by one man who he had to fight off in order to escape. Although not captured on video, one woman can be heard shouting "don't choke him" on tape. Mercutio described the moment as "like facing a lynch mob."
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) November 21, 2015
"I got punched in the face, I got punched in the neck. I got kicked in the chest. Kicked in the stomach. Somebody stepped on my hand."
Southall and the other Black Lives Matter activist on the scene, Carlos Havers, said the attack was more than just an isolated incident. For them, it was telling of what happens when you run a candidacy based on "hatred and racism." Trump had previously stated that if Black Lives Matter protesters ever tried to take over one of his events, he didn't know if he would be "doing the fighting myself, or if other people will."
During the incident in Birmingham, Donald told the crowd to "get [the 'Black Lives Matter' yeller] the hell out of here." This statement, argued Havers, is indicative that Trump himself does not stand against such violent reactions.
"He does condone it because he was the one saying, 'Yeah, get them out of here.' He was the one telling the supporters to do what they needed to to get them out of here. We want an apology from Donald Trump himself. We want him to sit down with us and explain why he did what he did and why's he's going around the country spewing hatred and racism."
Although campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that "the campaign does not condone this behavior," Trump appeared on Fox and Friends Sunday morning and said that maybe the Black Lives Matter protester "should have been roughed up."
"The man that was — I don't know, you say 'roughed up' — he was so obnoxious and so loud. He was screaming. I had 10,000 people in the room yesterday — 10,000 people. And this guy started screaming by himself. I have lot of fans and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy, who was a troublemaker who was looking to make trouble."
Black Lives Matter activists involved in the skirmish felt that Donald Trump's less-than-disgusted reaction to the actions of the crowd was troublesome, and, for them, revealing of how "America will be with Trump at the helm."
[Photos by Stephen Maturen and Scott Olson/Getty Images]