Donald Trump’s recent rallies seem to have turned into a mud-slinging show of violent protest, as a number of his recent outings have been disrupted, or in some cases even cut short by unruly behavior. These events have been emotionally charged, with Trump responding to interruptions with “get ’em out,” which resulted in resounding cheers from his supporters. In some instances, Trump has capitalized on the disruptions, leading his followers in chants of “USA, USA.”
The protests began to escalate this month, with a Trump supporter being caught on video punching a protester who was being removed by police in North Carolina. After being charged with assault, the supporter was interviewed and stated that the next time he confronted a protester, “we might have to kill him.”
In New Orleans, police needed assistance from Trump’s personal security to remove dozens of protesters. In St. Louis, a group of protesters who chanted that Trump was a racist had to be removed by police. A small group of Black Lives Matter activists locked arms, challenging officials to remove them as Trump’s speech was constantly being interrupted. Minor clashes were frequent in the crowd.
In the afternoon before Trump’s scheduled evening appearance at the University of Illinois, a tense atmosphere prevailed, as protesters and supporters taunted one another aggressively. A large contingent of protesters supporting Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, said that had Trump not called off the rally, their plan was to storm the stage.
A large group of police officers had to be deployed to restore the peace as the conflict between protesters and Trump supporters erupted in fist fights.
Trump later called the incident a “planned attack” from liberal groups and supporters of Senator Sanders.
“When they have organized, professionally staged wise-guys — we’ve got to fight back. We’ve got to fight back,”
Trump said, and went on to say:
“These other people, these other people — by the way, some represented Bernie, our Communist friend. With Bernie, he should really get up and say to his people, ‘Stop. Stop.’ Not me.”
Trump also pointed a finger at the activist group MoveOn.org, claiming they were among those organizing the disruptions.
“These are bad people. Let me tell you, these are people that truly don’t want to see America great again. I’m telling you that. We have got to toughen up now. We don’t like it. By doing what I did — that story is all over the world right now that we made the right decision under great pressure.”
In Dayton, Ohio, a man identified as Thomas Dimassimo, of Fairborn, Ohio, jumped a barricade, charging at Trump, and got as far as the stage before being apprehended by security officials. It would appear a member of the crowd had warned Trump of Dimassimo’s approach, as he suddenly spun his head back and was immediately shielded by four agents. He then resumed his speech, thanking the person that warned him. “I was ready for ’em,” he said, “but it’s much easier if the cops do it, don’t we agree? What a great job. What a great job. And to think I’ve had such an easy life. What do I need this for? What do I need this for? I’ve done great. I love this country. We’re going to make this country great again. It’s payback time. These guys are so fantastic.”
Trump claimed that Dimassimo was linked to ISIS. But experts brushed this off, calling it “utterly farcical.”
In Cleveland, horseback mounted officers and police helicopters were the order of the day. A group of 50 or more protesters were removed, two of whom were doctors wearing shirts printed with “Muslim Doctors Save Lives in Cleveland.”
Trump is scheduled to appear in Hickory, North Carolina, Tampa, Florida, and Youngstown, Ohio on Monday.
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)