JUDGE: Protesters Can Sue Trump for Creating ‘Atmosphere of Violence’ at Rallies (VIDEO)
A Kentucky federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit against then-candidate Donald Trump amid allegations that he allowed the use of violence against three protesters at a Louisville rally when he told his supporters to “get ’em out of here.”
Judge sides with Trump rally protesters
In an opinion and an order filed Friday, U.S. District Judge David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky wrote that since violence had broken out at an earlier Trump rally and because known members of several hate groups were also at the rally, Trump’s order to remove an African-American woman from the crowd was “particularly restless,” The Courier-Journal reports.
Haley referred to case laws stemming from the unrest created by 1960s race riots and other protests and rejected motions to dismiss the complaint against Trump and three supporters. The complaint was filed by three protesters after a March 1, 2016 rally in Louisville. Part of the defendants motion was granted, but Haley’s decision means that the bulk of the claims will proceed.
Henry Brousseau, Kashiya Nwanguma and Molly Shah, are seeking unspecified monetary damages, alleging that they were assaulted by supporters who were riled up by Trump. In their lawsuit, the trio says Trump fosters an “atmosphere of violence,” according to The New York Daily News.
“Each time he said ‘get them out’ Trump intended for his supporters to use unwanted, harmful physical violence to remove protesters,” the protesters allege in the lawsuit.
During his rallies, Trump told supporters he would pay legal bills for supporters who fought protesters, and he’s also implied that anyone who disrupted his campaign speeches should be “roughed up.”
Violence was reported at several of his rallies, including one in North Carolina where one supporter allegedly sucker punched a demonstrator who was being led away from the rally.
The three supporters named alongside Trump are Matthew Heimbach, who leads the white supremacist group Traditional Youth Network, from Paoli, Indiana; Alan Bamberger, a member of the Korean War Veterans from Ohio; and one unnamed individual, The Courier-Journal reports.
The incident was caught on video and the men can be seen pushing and shoving Nwanguma out of the Kentucky International Convention Center while Trump urged them on from the stage.
Trump’s Louisville-based lawyer, R. Kent Westberry contends that the suit’s allegations threaten key constitutional protections by inhibiting free speech and the people accused of assaulting the trio were not acting for Trump or his campaign. They were acting on their own initiative and for their own reasons, he said. But it should be noted that free speech is also protected under the constitution, and Heimbach, Bamberger and the person who isn’t named were doing their best to inhibit free speech by not allowing the demonstrators to hold their own.
And judge Hale reinforced what the protesters had claimed — the violence didn’t begin until Trump ordered them out of the rally.
One plaintiff alleged that Trump was vicariously liable for Heimbach and Bamberger’s actions, but Haley dismissed that claim because the two men weren’t employed by Trump or his campaign and weren’t under his control at the rally.
In the video below, Molly describes her ordeal at the rally.
Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images