Here’s a question: Are Trump supporters violent? Yeah, of course we know that not all Trump supporters are violent – it would be ridiculous to generalize a huge group of people based on the actions of a few…oh wait.
As the GOP frontrunner continues to pick up victories during primary season, his momentum and support base has become more emboldened. With each passing day, the level of hateful rhetoric emanating from the campaign continues to shock the world. But something funny is happening: Trump’s popularity continues to rise as the hate rhetoric continues to flow.
During a stump speech in South Carolina, he spoke wistfully about torture, collective punishment and a sickening legend where General Jack Pershing used ammo dipped in pigs’ blood to execute Muslim captives in the Philippines during the early 1900’s. The anecdote was largely debunked by Snopes, yet Trump resurrected the very same story this week in Ohio.
Trump has also openly supported violence against the growing number of protestors who attend his rallies – offering to pay legal fees for those who commit acts of violence. This Mashable article has tracked the numerous times he has appealed to violence in his speeches.
But this is all just rhetoric, right? Judging by recent headlines, it is difficult to classify this as just rhetoric or bluster. There has been a sharp upswing in violent incidents taking place at the hands of Trump supporters at rallies and beyond. Let’s look at 6 of these examples:
1. Wichita, Kansas: Man screaming “Trump! Trump!” attacks Muslim, Hispanic students
Let’s start with this one, since it is the most recent. A Wichita State University student reports that he and his friend were attacked over the weekend outside a local Kwik Stop convenience store. The assailant began hurling insults at Khondoker Usama – WSU’s student body Vice President and the friend, saying “brown trash – go home. Trump will win.” The confrontation escalated to physical violence, where the perpetrator punched the student repeatedly. Usama then called the police as the suspect fled. Police are investigating the incident, and have not named any suspects as yet.
2. New Hampshire: Trump Campaign official arrested in connection with Bundy Ranch standoff
In the fallout of the infamous armed-Oregon standoff, where we saw many members of the Bundy family (including patriarch Cliven) arrested on federal charges – we also saw individuals arrested in connection with the 2014 standoff in Nevada. Jerry Delemus, who was the New Hampshire co-chair of “Veterans for Trump” was arrested on several charges. The offenses, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader, included:
- Conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States
- Threatening a federal law enforcement officer
- Attempting to impede or injure a federal law enforcement officer
- Multiple firearms charges
Delemus’ wife Susan, is also a state representative and an avid supporter of the Trump campaign. Prior to his arrest, Delemus made headlines for an attempted “Draw Muhammad” rally in New Hampshire.
3. Louisville, Kentucky: White Supremacist physically, verbally assaults black protestor
In yet another disturbing video that emerged from a Trump rally, University of Louisville student Shiya Nwanguma is shown being physically and verbally assaulted while being walked out of the event. As Nwanguma stated, she was called “n****r” and “c**t” and was pushed by white nationalist Matthew Heimbach. The neo-Nazi leader admitted pushing Nwanguma, however was not removed from the event nor charged with a crime.
4. Fayetteville, North Carolina: White Trump supporter sucker-punches black protestor at rally
As protestors were being escorted out of the Trump rally in Fayetteville, NC – 78-year-old John McGraw took it upon himself to sucker-punch an unsuspecting Black Lives Matter protestor. McGraw was arrested for the punch and charged with assault. At the time, he was being held on $2,500 bond.
5. Miami, Florida: Immigration protestor dragged on ground, kicked by Trump supporters
In the midst of the backdrop of Trump’s inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants being “rapists” – an immigration protest was held at a rally in Miami. In one of the most disturbing scenes of the campaign season, protestor Ariel Rojas was dragged on the floor by his collar, while being kicked and jeered by Trump supporters. The crowd began shouting “U.S.A! U.S.A!”
6. Richmond California: Trump Supporter Arrested, Plotting to Bomb Muslims
55-year-old William Celli was arrested in Richmond, CA in an attempt to bomb the local Muslim community. Celli was known to have made threats against the local community, and had openly espoused support for Donald Trump. Police seized a device from his home, that may have been used in a potential attack. On his Facebook page, Celli espoused hatred for Hispanics and Muslims alike, and said he would follow Trump “to the end of the world.”
*Bonus* St. Louis, Missouri – Trump supporter screams F**k Islam, other epithets at Muslim passers-by
Not really violent, but indicative of the pervasive hate and Islamophobia that permeates Trump’s support base. As a group of Muslims walks by, a Trump supporter yells out “F**k Islam, Allah is a w***e – Jesus is the most high god.”
The above examples are merely a drop in the bucket, in terms of the number of incidents being reported from Trump’s stratosphere. What is most telling from this pattern, is the comfort level in resurrecting and espousing overt bigotry in public. We all know that Trump has done much to advance anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry, and this has made him the most attractive candidate to white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, who have normally shied from the public eye.
Since Obama’s election into office, Trump has steadily ridden the wave of “birther” rhetoric – playing upon the fears and grievances of angry voters who feel they have “lost the country.” Rather than immediately repudiating his extremist support base – he has chosen to utilize this bubbling hatred to pull himself ahead of the pack. It is no shock that the continued toxic rhetoric will only spur on more polarization and violence. So before Trump generalizes minorities with his infamous broad brush, maybe we need to – in his words, “figure out what the hell is going on” – with his own crowd.