White supremacists and other Donald Trump supporters could face charges for altercations that broke out during a Kentucky campaign rally — but so could protesters.
Video showed a white nationalist leader shoving and screaming at a black woman who protested the Republican presidential candidate’s rally Tuesday at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville.
Matthew Heimbach, head of the Traditionalist Youth Network, admits he was involved in an altercation with a black woman who he said was screaming obscenities and creating a disturbance, but he denied the woman’s claims that he used racial slurs.
One of the protesters, Henry Brousseau, filed a police report alleging that he was punched in the stomach by a woman in Heimbach’s group for shouting “Black Lives Matter,” reported the Courier-Journal.
The 17-year-old Brousseau said he did not know the woman’s name but took a photo of her before he was ejected from the event by what he believes was a combination of Trump security guards, Louisville Metro Police officers and Secret Service agents.
Trump interrupted his roughly 40-minute speech at least a half-dozen times to call for the removal of protesters, reported WDRB-TV, and some of the demonstrators said the candidate’s supporters roughed them up before they were ejected.
“I didn’t expect hands to be placed on me,” said protester Shalonte Branham. “I expected security to say, ‘It’s time to go,’ but I did not expect people to try and harm me.”
Branham said she did not intend to agitate during the rally, but she admits she shouted and chanted during Trump’s speech.
“If you can express your right to speak and say something we can come in to the public space and express our discontent with that,” Branham said.
That actually might not be so, under a federal law signed in 2012 by President Barack Obama.
H.R. 347 prohibits the obstruction of government business and official functions and the impedance of entry or exit at any “restricted buildings or grounds,” which are defined as anywhere the president of others under Secret Service protection are temporarily visiting.
Trump, the GOP presidential frontrunner, has been under Secret Service protection since November.
Police said no arrests have been made in connection with the Trump rally, although the incident remains under investigation.
Authorities gave no indication whether protesters could be charged under the federal law.
Heimbach said Trump was his “kind of guy” because he was addressing “white working class interests,” although the white nationalist said he would avoid future rallies for his preferred candidate.
“I’ll avoid any additional Trump events to ensure that I don’t become a distraction, but the entire point of the BLM’s tactics is to push people until they push back,” Heimbach said. “It won’t be me next time, but white Americans are getting fed up and they’re learning that they must either push back or be pushed down.”
Trump has drawn the backing of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, although the GOP candidate has tried to disavow the support after claiming in a television interview that he didn’t know enough about Duke or his former group to comment.
Watch an interview with Heimbach posted online by the Courier-Journal: