At a Redding, California rally on Friday, Donald Trump interrupted a tirade against the protesters who disrupt his campaign events to call out a black supporter in the crowd.
“Look at my African-American over here,” Trump said, pointing to a fan out of view of cameras. “Are you the greatest? You know what I’m talking about? Okay.”
The presumptive GOP nominee then segued into a story about a black U.S airman who punched a Trump protester in the face at a March rally in Tucson, Arizona. According to Trump, the airman, Tony Pettway, was provoked by protesters dressed in Ku Klux Klan outfits.
“This African-American gets up, and man, he slugged these guys. He slugged them,” Trump said to cheers from the audience.
“He slugged this guy wearing the Ku Klux Klan outfit, but by the time he got up to the top, you couldn’t see it was a Ku Klux Klan outfit. So when the African-American cold-cocked this guy, this guy never know what happened, everybody thought the African-American was against me, and it was the opposite,” Trump went on. “He was this great guy, military guy. We have tremendous African-American support. The reason is I’m going to bring jobs back to our country.”
Trump attributed any violence at his rallies to “thug” protesters and said that he always cautions his fans to behave appropriately.
“When we have a protester inside, which isn’t even very often, I say be very gentle, please don’t hurt him, take care of him,” he said. “If he wants to shout—if he punches you in the face, smile as your nose is pouring blood out of it. Be very, very nice.”
Earlier this year, the billionaire businessman offered to pay the legal fees of supporters who punched protesters and said that he personally wished he could punch one in the face. He has reigned in his tone somewhat since becoming the GOP nominee and receiving admonishment from party leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Trump told the Redding crowd that the violent altercations that broke out outside of his rally in San Jose on Thursday night were the work of unpatriotic “thugs.”
Calling the crowd inside the San Jose Convention Center “amazing,” he said they were “accosted by a bunch of thugs burning the American flag” upon leaving.
The crowd in Redding then erupted into shouts of “build that wall,” which Trump echoed.
“You’re right,” he said.