Tuesday, March 1, 2016 12:24 am
A Donald Trump rally in Virginia, ahead of Super Tuesday, was repeatedly disrupted on Monday by protesters, including some from the Black Lives Matter movement, in a stark display of the divisions the Republican front-runner’s presidential campaign has long been accused of sowing.
Reuters reports that a Time magazine photographer trying to document the exit of dozens of black protesters from the rally in southwestern Radford, Virginia, was grabbed by the neck and shoved to the ground by a U.S. Secret Service agent.
Hecklers disrupted the rally on a day when the New York billionaire fended off criticism that he had not clearly condemned white supremacist support during an interview on CNN on Sunday.
Trump taunted the protesters, shouting “Are you from Mexico?” at one of them. Supporters in the audience confronted the hecklers in angry, face-to-face exchanges.
As black protesters were escorted from the rally, the crowd around them began to chant, “All lives matter.”
Trump waited for the scene to quiet down before saying, “Folks, you’re going to hear it once: All lives matter.” The crowd roared with applause.
Black Lives Matter is a civil rights movement that sprung from police shootings of black Americans in recent years.
The Trump rally took place on the eve of Super Tuesday, the biggest voting day in the race to pick the 2016 presidential nominees for the November election. A number of Southern states including Virginia are holding contests on Tuesday and opinion polls show Trump is likely to consolidate his status as favorite to win the Republican nomination.
It was unclear whether Trump would be damaged by support from white supremacists. He has risen in opinion polls and won three of four early nominating contests while proposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, calling Mexican immigrants criminals and insulting women.
‘GET THEM OUT’
On Monday, the protesters disrupted Trump’s remarks several times for long stretches, prompting him to shout to security guards several times, “Get them out please, get them out.”
Trump appeared to relish the discord, saying after the turmoil in the crowd that his rallies were more exciting than those of the other candidates: “But it is fun, and exciting.”
At a rally last week in Nevada, Trump also jumped into the fray with a protester when he said, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”