A federal judge in Kentucky ruled on Friday against an attempt by Trump’s attorneys to use a free speech defense in a lawsuit that accuses the former Republican presidential candidate of inciting violence against protesters at a campaign rally held in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 2016. The judge’s rejection of the free speech defense by Trump’s attorneys means that the lawsuit against Trump, his campaign, and three supporters can proceed.
During a Trump rally in Louisville last year, Trump repeatedly told his supporters to remove protesters from the rally.
“Get ’em out of here,” he repeatedly said, according to the Guardian.
Two females, Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah, and a male, Henry Brousseau, claim they were physically assaulted, shoved, roughed up and punched by several Trump supporters at the event that took place on March 1, 2016, in Louisville, Kentucky, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
The three alleged attackers named in the lawsuit include Matthew Heimbach and Alvin Bamberger.
Bamberger, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association (KWVA), later expressed regret for his involvement in the incident. But his words could help to indict Trump and his campaign.
Bamberger, from Ohio, admitted in writing that “he physically pushed a young woman down the aisle toward the exit” in compliance with Trump’s repeated instruction “get ’em out, get ’em out of here.”
But Heimbach, a leader of a local white nationalist group, the Traditional Youth Network, from Paoli in Indiana, attempted unsuccessfully to counter the lawsuit’s effort to link his action with his membership of a white nationalist group and previous statements he reportedly made that Trump could help to advance the interest of white nationalist groups.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Heimbach is “considered by many to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists.”
Footage showing Trump supporters attacking the protesters was uploaded online and viewed by millions during the 2016 presidential campaign period. The footage shows Trump pointing at the protesters and repeatedly saying, “Get ’em out.”
Trump’s attorneys attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed on free speech grounds, saying that the Republican presidential candidate never intended for his supporters to interpret his words as an incitement to violence.
However, Judge David J. Hale insisted that a previous Supreme Court ruling had made it clear that the First Amendment does not offer constitutional protections for speech that incites violence. He added that there was sufficient evidence supporting the allegation by the protesters that the injuries they suffered were a “direct and proximate result” of Trump’s words.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” Hale wrote, according to the Washington Post. “It was an order, an instruction, a command.”
Judge Hale declined to remove from the lawsuit the allegation by the plaintiffs that one of them, Nwanguma, an African American, was subjected to racial, ethnic and sexist abuse at the rally. He said that the allegation of racial abuse was relevant to the plaintiffs’ claim that the injuries they suffered were due to incitement by Trump.
“While the words themselves are repulsive, they are relevant to show the atmosphere in which the alleged events occurred,” Hale wrote.
Hale also dismissed the argument by Trump’s attorneys that Trump and his campaign have no duty to the plaintiffs and could not be liable for the injuries they suffered because they knowingly assumed the risk of protesting at the rally. Hale insisted that under the law every person owes every other person a duty of care to avoid a foreseeable injury.
“In sum, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have adequately alleged that their harm was foreseeable and that the Trump Defendants had a duty to prevent it,” the judge’s concluded in his ruling.
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