Hillary Clinton on Thursday condemned what she called a “distressing” alleged assault of a black protester at a North Carolina campaign rally for Donald Trump.
“Count me among those who are truly distraught and appalled by a lot of what I see going on, what I hear being said,” Clinton said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow set to air Thursday night.
Social media channels lit up with a video of protester Rakeem Jones appearing to be sucker-punched in the side of the head by a white Trump supporter as he was being escorted from the rally Wednesday night. John McGraw, 78, was charged with assault and battery Thursday for the alleged attack.
Maddow asked the Democratic frontrunner to weigh in on the incident, as well as the other violent altercations that have been documented at rallies for her Republican opponent.
Clinton insisted that protesting was a valid form of activism for those who oppose Trump’s views, and that security should handle demonstrators in an “appropriate manner.”
“You don’t make America great by dumping on everything that made America great, like freedom of speech and assembly,” Clinton said.
“Clearly, I know that everybody in public life gets protested against and sometimes people do have to be removed,” she continued. “But it should be done in an appropriate manner. Other people in the audience should not be joining in. Mr. Trump should not be urging people on. This is deeply distressing. I think as the campaign goes further, more and more Americans are going to be disturbed by the kind of campaign he’s running.”
At a recent rally in Las Vegas, the GOP candidate lamented that protesters could no longer be handled aggressively by security, saying he wished he could punch one man being removed from the crowd “in the face.”
“I love the ol’ days,” Trump said. “You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
Inside Edition published video Thursday afternoon of John McGraw saying the protester “deserved it.”
“The next time we see him, we might have to kill him,” McGraw said.
Clinton responded to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tweet of McGraw’s quotes, calling on Trump to enforce civility as his campaign events.
This kind of behavior is repugnant. We set the tone for our campaigns—we should encourage respect, not violence. https://t.co/reqTlYTRHv
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 10, 2016