During his campaign, Donald Trump was known for having some of the most venomous and divisive speeches in recent presidential history. However, his crowd ate up every single word of it. Whether is was to spew hate towards the media or protesters, Trump injected the same type of reaction to his followers, and on many occasions situations got physical.
One of those times was in North Carolina, when then-78-year-old John McGraw sucker-punched African-American spectator Rakeem Jones as he was being escorted out of the building. Jones tried to retaliate, but was immediately stopped by police of having the chance to re-enter. McGraw sat right down and enjoyed the speech, but was later charged with assault for the attack on Jones.
Shockingly, after the incident, McGraw told Inside Edition, "You bet I liked it. Knocking the h**l out of that big mouth. We don't know who he is, but we know he's not acting like an American. [He deserved] every bit of it. Yes he deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him."
McGraw, now 79, was later charged with assault for his actions. The trial was delayed until after the election, and resumed this month.
Rakeem Jones told the Washington Post that it was a "social experiment," and that he was curious to see what a Trump rally looked like. He also explained the aftermath of being punched by McGraw.
"Boom, he caught me. After I get it, before I could even gain my thoughts, I'm on the ground getting escorted out. Now I'm waking up this morning looking at the news and seeing me getting hit again."While there appeared to be a great deal of animosity between the two, a surprising gesture happened during their court meeting. Not only did the two appear to make amends for the incident, but McGraw extended his hand to Jones, and Jones proceeded to hug McGraw.
According to CNN, this is what McGraw told Jones during their conversation in court.
"You know what you did, and I know what I did. I'm not going to say you were wrong or I'm wrong. I hate it worse than anything in the world. If I met you in the street and the same thing occurred, I would have said, 'Go on home. One of us will get hurt.' That's what I would have said. But we are caught up in a political mess today, and you and me, we got to heal our country."Jones explained during an interview with CNN how it all came about. He stated that before the encounter, there was communication between the two over the internet to hash things out. Then, inside the courtroom, he did not think anything significant of the gesture, except that it was just a natural thing to do. He also defended McGraw in his comments that his actions were not racially prompted, but simply out of passion for supporting Trump and antagonizing any protestors.
When asked about what message this gives to others, Jones stated that he just wants to see more unity, pleading viewers to deal with differences better. He also told CNN affiliate WRAL that he "just felt good being able to shake his hand and be able to, you know, being able to actually face him."
McGraw pleaded no contest to assault and disorderly conduct charges, and has been given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and a year on unsupervised probation. While there was initially a strong consideration of charging Trump with inciting a riot, those accusations never progressed.
Thankfully, there was a very encouraging ending to this incident, both racially and politically. Hopefully, both parties have learned positively from the situation, and will act accordingly.
[Featured Image By Skip Foreman/AP Images]