As captured on video Saturday by CNN, Mecutio Southall, an African-American protester, was viciously beaten at another bizarrely xenophobic Donald Trump campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama. Southall, a single father of three and a social activist, said in an interview with ThinkProgress that he went to the Trump rally to speak out against Trump’s persistent hateful racist comments.
“The things that he’s been saying about black people, Latino people, immigrants, refugees — we felt it was very disrespectful…This is a city where some of the biggest battles of the civil rights movement happened, where four little girls got bombed up, so we aren’t accepting of anything like that kind of talk down here. I mean, this man came to our city a couple of weeks before Christmas, saying we should not let in Middle Eastern refugees. If I’m not mistaken, I think Jesus was a Middle Eastern refugee. So we were not going to stand idly by and see the rise of the next Hitler. We knew we had to stand for something.”
Southall said he immediately felt unwelcome at the rally, as Trump supporters “physically recoiled from him and his friends…There was like a six feet space on either side of us…The message was: this was not our town. This was not our place.” But Southall and his friends were determined to show Trump that “he’s not welcome here,” and when a Trump supporter knocked his friend’s phone out of his hand, the three started chanting “Black lives matter.”
The CNN video showed a vicious crowd of Trump supporters punching, kicking, and choking Southall while chanting “All lives matter.” Southall said:
“It was just a sea of white faces,” he told ThinkProgress. “A lady kicked me in the stomach. A man kicked me in the chest. They called me n*****, monkey, and they shouted ‘all lives matter’ while they were kicking and punching me. So for all the people who are still confused at this point, they proved what ‘all lives matter’ meant. It means, ‘Shut up, n*****.’”
Not surprisingly, Trump said on Fox News Sunday that Southall deserved what he got. “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” Trump said. “It was disgusting what he was doing…This was a very obnoxious guy, a troublemaker, looking to make trouble.” If we forget for a moment that this is the United States where we have rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which these Republican blowhards claim to cherish) – including the right to assemble and protest – local police seem to agree, announcing Monday that there will be no charges filed against the people who attacked Southall.
“Using language nearly identical to how Jim Crow-era Birmingham Police chief Bull Connor described Martin Luther King Jr., police spokesperson Lt. Sean Edwards told CNN: I would be a little cautious with Mercutio Southall. He has been an agitator from day one. Mercutio is always the agitator.”
Reporters also brought up the incident with Robert Kiger, leader of the pro-Trump super PAC called Citizens For Restoring USA. ”Kiger told CNN that the Black Lives Matter movement is a “farce…They don’t really have a cause they’re trying to bring to the forefront…If they did, they’d go to Baltimore or Chicago.” Of course Kiger couldn’t know at that time, and his attitude suggests that he wouldn’t have cared that white supremacists fired on “Black lives matter” folks at a rally yesterday in Minneapolis. In response to a question from a CNN reporter about having the right to protest, Kiger said: “No they don’t, really. Look, I wouldn’t go into a black church and start screaming ‘white lives matter.’” Besides the fact that such a statement is in direct violation of Southall’s Constitutional rights, the implication here is that Trump rallies are “white space only.”
As ThinkProgress points out: “Verbal and physical altercations at Trump rallies — especially directed at protesters of color — is fairly routine. Another recent rally took a dark turn when attendees shoved and spat on immigration advocates. The following week, Trump supporters were filmed dragging and kicking an immigration activist while others yelled “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
Donald Trump is the Republican front-runner for president of the United States and as president, should he unfortunately be elected, it will be his job to uphold the Constitution for which he and his racist xenophobic followers have shown little regard. His daily lies and stoking fears about blacks, Muslims, and Latinos are dark days indeed for our political system.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.