White attendee at Trump rally charged with hitting black man
FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina (AP) — A white attendee at a Donald Trump rally was charged with assault Thursday after he was caught on video hitting a black man being escorted out by deputies, authorities said.
The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said John Franklin McGraw, 78, was charged with assault and disorderly conduct after the rally for the Republican front-runner on Wednesday.
The statement said the victim was being escorted out after disrupting the rally, and deputies had their eyes on the stairs when the assault happened.
McGraw was arrested Thursday after investigators reviewed a video posted on social media.
Listings for McGraw rang disconnected. Authorities didn't respond to an email asking if he had an attorney.
In an email in response to a question about the assault, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said only that "we are not involved."
The man who was punched, Rakeem Jones, told The Associated Press that he and others went to the event as observers, not protesters. He says someone swore at one of their group, and by the time they tried to object, the police were escorting him out.
"It was like, wow, I got hit while the police are escorting me out. ... The police watched me get hit," he said.
Confrontations between protesters and Trump supporters have become common at Trump rallies across the country. Trump has incorporated reactions to them into his speeches.
Audiences are usually told ahead of rallies in an announcement not to harm protesters and instead attract authorities' attention by chanting, "Trump! Trump! Trump!"