As reported last night, something surreal happened at Trump’s Saturday rally in Arizona: a man who, as part of a group that had donned KKK attire and was occasionally giving out Nazi salutes in attempts to mock and provoke Trump supporters, did just that when he was punched and kicked by none other than a black man while being escorted out of the building. The moment was captured on the photo below which will surely become part of the 2016 presidential race archive.
Who is the protester?
According to a profile by the Arizona Daily Star, his name is Bryan Sanders who describes himself as an indepedent “I’m not a republican, I’m not a democrat”, and in a video interview after he left the rally he said the crowd was like an angry mob. What he ignored to note is that it was him and his fellow protesters who were doing everything all they could to rile up this “angry mob” and provoke them, ostensibly in hope of being attacked – which is precisely what happened. In other words, this group of Trump protesters which seem to follow him from state to state may be nothing more than a group of provocateurs, who do their best to get beaten up in order to stem up anti-Trump sentiment, something Sanders implicitly admits.
This is what he said: “I was protesting Trump’s facism, his racism, his lies, his women-hating,” Bryan Sanders said in an interview with the Arizona Daily Star. Sanders said he was holding a sign that said “Trump is bad for America.”
“A guy grabbed the sign out of my hand as I was being escorted out of the building and sucker punched me,” he said. Sanders, who as noted above identified himself as an independent, said he also attended a Bernie Sanders rally the night before.
‘We’re gonna stop this; this is not going to continue,” he said. “If it takes somebody getting punched in the face, that’s what it takes, no problem.” And Sanders will make sure it is no problem by continuing to provoke the “angry mob” at Trump rallies with everything he’s got.
Meanwhile, Trump himself said earlier today that protesters who’ve dogged his recent presidential campaign appearances should bear some responsibility for violence committed against them by his supporters.
“These are professional agitators,” the Republican front-runner said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “There should be blame there, too.”
As Bloomberg reports, “violence flared again on Saturday when a protester wearing a Confederate flag imprinted with the candidate’s face was struck by a black Trump supporter at a rally in Tucson, Arizona. The Trump partisan was angered by another demonstrator wearing a white sheet over her head in an imitation of a Ku Klux Klan hood. As local authorities attempted to remove the protesters, the supporter kicked the man with the sign three times and punched him once.”
At the time, Trump termed the protester wearing the hood “really disgusting,” saying that agitators at his events were “taking away our First Amendment rights.”
“They’re going to get a little television so their mom can say, ‘Hello,”’ Trump said at the rally. He criticized the demonstrators outside the event “making it so it’s a very narrow passageway” for people to enter. “What’s the purpose?” he said. “I apologize for the people that are coming in.”
The incidents have flared ahead of the March 22 winner-takes-all Arizona Republican primary, which polls show Trump is leading by by more than 10 percentage points over Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Utah also holds its Republican nominating contest that day.
In Sunday’s interview, Trump said he doesn’t “condone violence” but also didn’t condemn the man who kicked and punched the protester. Trump also praised his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who appeared — in a video of a separate incident on Saturday — to have yanked a protester to the ground.
“I give him credit for having spirit,” Trump said of Lewandowski. “He wanted them to take down those horrible profanity-laced signs.” Video of the incident showed the man in the incident was not holding a sign.
Expect increasingly more comparable provocations, either by paid “professional agitators” or otherwise, at Trump rallies, until one day someone gets seriously hurt or dies.
Finally, this is what Trump himself tweeted moments ago:
Why is it that the horrendous protesters, who scream, curse punch, shut down roads/doors during my RALLIES, are never blamed by media? SAD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2016
He does have a valid point.