Throughout his campaign, real estate mogul Donald Trump has preyed on the xenophobia and racism of some Republican voters. By stoking nationalist fear through comments about Mexican immigrants being "rapists," as well as rhetorical proposals to bar all Muslims from entering the United States, the billionaire has attracted support of an often unsavory nature.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Trump’s rallies foster frightening incidents. Many of these, including the beating of a black protester at a Birmingham, Alabama, event in November 2015, have been received with tacit approval from the candidate as he watches from the stage.
This week, two new unnerving incidents occurred.
On Tuesday, Trump was fielding questions from journalists in Jupiter, Florida, when a reporter with the right-wing Breitbart News website raised her hand.
"Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards," Michelle Fields wrote in op-ed, describing the incident.
"Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken."
While Fields does not know who grabbed her, a Washington Post reporter witnessing the episode identified the aggressor as Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s 41-year-old campaign manager.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 10, 2016
Trump denied the incident took place. A statement released by campaign press secretary Hope Hicks, suggests that the accusation "is entirely false," adding that, "not a single camera or reporters of more than 100 in attendance captured the alleged incident."
Fields has, however, posted a photo of the bruises she allegedly received during the confrontation. In addition, her account doesn’t sound altogether different from the scene in Virginia last month when one of Trump’s Secret Service agents slammed a photographer to the ground. That incident was widely captured on video.
— Michelle Fields (@MichelleFields) March 10, 2016
On Wednesday, cameras caught another violent incident during a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. As a black protester was being escorted from the event, a white bystander punched the demonstrator in the face.
The video appears to show security guards forcibly detaining the protester in the wake of the attack, and the assailant is left alone.
The attacker has now been identified as 78-year-old John McGraw. He has been charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct.
— Gilbert Baez (@WRALGilbert) March 10, 2016
While Trump may deny that he bears any responsibility for the actions of his supporters, it’s hard to divorce the violence from the billionaire’s rhetoric.
"Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing," Trump said of the November 2015 incident, in which a protestor was attacked.