Rakeem Jones, 26, was being escorted from the rally on Wednesday
night by sheriff's deputies in Fayetteville when John McGraw hit
him, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said.
Video of the incident recorded by bystanders showed deputies pinning
Jones to the ground, prompting social media criticism on why swift
action was taken against him instead of his assailant.
"He had no right to put his hands on me," Jones said in a telephone
McGraw also was charged with disorderly conduct and communicating
threats. Detectives added the latter charge after seeing video of
McGraw saying he enjoyed hitting "that loudmouth" and threatening
next time "to kill him," the sheriff's office said.
The office said it would conduct an internal investigation, adding
that deputies accompanying Jones did not see the assault.
Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler called the attack cowardly.
“Regardless of political affiliation, speech, race, national origin,
color, gender, bad reputation, prior acts or political
demonstration, no other citizen has the right to assault another
person or to act in such a way as this defendant did," Butler said.
Asked about the incident during the Republican debate Thursday
night, Trump said he did not condone violence but said that some
protesters "are bad dudes."
Trump's campaign rallies are boisterous, with the billionaire
businessman often pausing to scold protesters and ask security
officers to take them away. At a rally last month in Nevada, he said
of a protester: "I'd like to punch him in the face."
[to top of second column]
Trump is the front-runner to be his party's nominee for the Nov. 8
His hour-long speech in the packed North Carolina arena was
interrupted at least 16 times, according to a Reuters reporter who
A friend of Jones, Ronnie C. Rouse, said they attended the event to
observe, not protest, and were told to leave after an exchange with
another man who Rouse said used a racial slur.
Jones, who works for an inventory company and as a tutor, said the
punch came out of nowhere.
"The whole arena cheered as I was being escorted out and even more
so after I got hit," he said, adding his right eye was swollen and
(Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson and Jon Herskovitz; Editing
by Frances Kerry, Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)
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