This is an updated version of an article that ran earlier this week.
The Donald Trump for President Rally last weekend once again turned the eyes of national news media toward Birmingham and racially charged violence, specifically between a Black Lives Matter protestor and several other spectators.
The Washington Post reported that, “Donald Trump on Sunday… said a black protester at a weekend rally here was ‘so obnoxious and loud’ that “maybe he should have been roughed up” by white audience members…. Saturday’s racially charged altercation occurred in Birmingham, famous in the 1960s as a center of the civil rights struggle. The thousands who attended Trump’s rally were nearly all white in a city with a black majority.”
The protestor in the middle of the fray was identified in several media accounts as Mercutio Southall, Jr., who has been arrested several times during protests.
Video captured by CNN and several local spectators showed parts of the event.In particular, the CNN video, which was shared by their reporter Jeremy Diamond on social media over the weekend shows the crowd attacking Southall after he had fallen to the floor.
“As the video circulated on social media that night, some of Trump’s supporters took to Twitter to call the protesters ‘thugs,’ ‘Dem plants’ and a variety of obscene names,” according to the Washington Post. “Several wrote that the protesters opened themselves up to the possibility of violence by attending the rally.”
CNN, in its report on the incident, noted that Trump made his statement, “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” on Fox News, “less than 24 hours after his campaign said it ‘does not condone’ the physical altercation.”
During the Trump rally, Southall was escorted from the building by Birmingham Police officers providing security at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, but not before being berated and physically assaulted Trump’s supporters.
Video captured by Jennifer Freehling showed Southall being escorted forcibly out of the hall while stopping several times, raising his fist, and exchanging words with the crowd. As has become common in an age when nearly everyone carries a video-enabled smartphone, several spectators could be seen getting the event on camera.
A YouTube video by a “World News” shows the moment Trump says from the podium — either to his supporters or security, or both – to remove the protestor from the venue. The video, “Trump Tosses BLM Heckler From Alabama Rally: ‘Get Him the Hell Out of Here!’” shows Trump before panning over to a shot of the crowd surrounding the protestor and his attackers, capturing the event on their phones.
Other video posted on YouTube by “Rise News” shows a different perspective, as officers walk the protestor out of the BJCC while spectators stand behind and around the action pointing their phone cameras at the scene.
This incident was not the first where a Trump rally devolved into violence between his supporters and those who oppose the Republican front runner, known for his unapologetic stance after making considered offensive to women, Latinos, blacks, and Muslims, among others.
A video by “Videos and Podcasts 2015” shows an earlier incident where a BLM protestor and a Latino activist were ejected from a Trump Rally in Richmond, VA.
Where the Freehling footage begins, with Trump’s voice over loudspeakers in the background, civilians and security officers appear to be shuffling Southall out toward the rear exit of the hall. The man stumbles and breathes heavily. Some spectators appear to be helping the man along. Others clear a path. Some yell at him.
Chants of “All lives matter,” and “Go home,” follow him. The protestor asks, “Everybody in here wants me to leave?”
“Be respectful,” a female voice calls.
“I care about my son’s future,” the protestor says to the onlookers. “My son…”
“All lives matter — get the hell out of here,” a man in a baseball cap says.
As the protestor and the pair of security guards holding him by each arm approach a large column in their path to the doors, the men engage in a brief tug-of-war. The individual grasping the protestor’s left arm jerks violently. The protestor wobbles in apparent pain with the guard to his right saying, “Walk,” into his ear.
“There’s no point in fighting it at this point,” the security guard tells the protestor. “No point in fighting.”
Security guards have at this point made a semi-circle around the protestor, and the 1-minute 46-second video cuts off.
“We confirm no arrests were made, but three protesters were asked to leave the venue after causing a disturbance. All three departed and there were no additional issues,” the Birmingham Police Department.
Sgt. Bryan S. Shelton recounted that no reports have been issued concerning physical assaults against the protestor.