A white nationalist caught shoving a black protestor at a Trump rally has a creative defense for why he should be let off the hook: Trump told him to do it.
Matthew Heimbach, the chairman of the unabashedly white nationalist Traditionalist Workers Party, shoved Kashiya Nwanguma while she was protesting at a Trump campaign rally on March 1, 2016. She and two others then sued Heimbach and another rally-goer for assault.
It wouldn’t be possible for Heimbach to say with any credibility that he didn’t push a protester. He shoves Nwanguma on a widely-seen video in which a group of white men surround, scuffle with, and shriek at Nwanguma. But Heimbach did deny the assault charge, and his argument is that he had authority to kick protesters out of the rally because Trump made a legal plea for help in doing so.
Trump shouted “get ’em out” several times from the podium at the March event in Louisville, Kentucky. Though he was clearly referring to the protesters, he didn’t say just who should be tasked with removing them.
Nwanguma and two other protesters also filed a lawsuit against Trump, alleging the president incited a riot during the Louisville rally. Trump’s lawyers argue that the then-candidate’s words were never meant to make his fans believe they should shove protesters or commit another sort of violence, an argument that would undermine Heimbach’s defense.
Fights broke out in several states at Trump rallies during the course of his presidential campaign, and low-grade political violence has continued in the United States ever since.
Anti- and pro-Trump protesters attacked each other in Berkeley, California, just this past Saturday. Police arrested 20 people, and found weapons in the crowd including mace and knives.