The day after a Black Lives Matter activist was forced to the ground, beaten and kicked at a rally for Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman said that perhaps the man deserved it. Actually, Trump’s exact words were: “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”
The Washington Post reported November 22 that Donald Trump, talking with the panel on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on Sunday morning, said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing. I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a trouble-maker who was looking to make trouble.”
He’s absolutely correct about his fans not being happy about the Black Lives Matter activist being in their midst. Not only did Mercutio Southall Jr., a known local black activist, interrupt the Trump rally, attended by thousands of white people, in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday, he was shouting, “Black lives matter!”
Trump, obviously annoyed, shouted for security. “Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Trump said. “Get him out of here. Throw him out!”
A scuffle ensued and Southall was soon on the ground. A now much-viewed video obtained by CNN shows several white men punching and kicking the man. One white woman appears to kick him as well while he was on the ground. Another woman’s voice can be heard yelling, “Don’t choke him!” As security guards led Southall away, the crowd can be heard chanting, “All lives matter!”
Donald Trump, who started his campaign with a series of racist and inflammatory remarks (predominantly concerning Mexicans), retweeted on Sunday afternoon a disturbing list of race-on-race murder statistics. The list indicated that blacks killed more blacks and blacks killed more whites by extremely high percentage rates. But, as the Washington Post reported, the retweeted race-on-race killing graphic is not correct, pointing out that FBI statistics show that most whites are killed by whites, which backs supporting statistics that indicate that people are most often killed by those they know, including friends and relatives and/or individuals they live with. In fact, FBI statistics indicate that whites kill whites 82.4 percent of the time, not 16 percent of the time as was shown in Trump’s graphic.
The Post noted that Trump’s Fox News response concerning the activist shows what appears to be a change in his attitude towards those that disrupt his rallies. Whereas he once acted with restraint, now he seems to have less patience with demonstrators. When protesters disrupted his rallies on prior occasions, he had told his security people not to hurt them.
“He was so obnoxious and so loud, he was screaming,” Trump said during the Fox News interview Sunday. “I had 10,000 people in the room yesterday, 10,000 people, and this guy started screaming by himself.”
He recalled how Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders was forced away from his podium at a Seattle rally earlier this year by two Black Live Matter activists. He said Sanders did the “politically correct” thing and let them speak. “Two young women came up to the podium,” he said. “They took over his microphone. I promise you, that’s not going to happen with me. I promise you. Never going to happen. Not going to happen. Can’t let that stuff happen.”
And yet, the presidential hopeful might want to be careful condoning a bunch of white people to “rough up” a black man who was simply exercising his right of free speech. Obnoxious it might have been but appearing to support the violence exacted on the man as being somehow deserved appears to fly in the face of allowing others their constitutional rights. Besides, now that Trump has a Secret Service contingent (as of Nov. 11), beating and kicking Mercutio Southall Jr. was simply the response of a mob mentality and completely unnecessary. (And saying “All lives matter” means nothing when an unfortunately placed punch or kick inadvertently kills a man.)
To say that part of the problem is a racist element being purposely cultivated by candidate Donald Trump might be the easy route to explaining what happened at the Alabama rally, but it could also be true. He has certainly not steered away from positions and commentary that appeals to nativists, racists, isolationists, militarists and exclusivists. And when he does his hardline, tough-guy routine his poll numbers usually gain him some distance against his fellow Republicans. As cases in point, the last two polls released (from Fox News and ABC News/Washington Post), both of which followed inflammatory remarks made about guns in Paris and surveilling mosques as well as registering Muslims, showed Trump 10 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival.