The North Carolina sheriff’s deputies who did nothing while a Black protester at a Donald Trump rally was assaulted have been disciplined. According to news reports, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office placed five deputies on probation for a year for their inaction.
The deputies were escorting 26-year-old Rakeem Jones, who was part of a group of Black people removed from a Trump rally in Fayetteville, N.C., when he was struck in the face by 78-year-old John McGraw, a Trump supporter. Apart from letting the assault happen, the police responded by tackling Jones to the ground and not arresting McGraw. After the incident, McGraw was unrepentant and bragged about the violent act.
“You bet I liked it,” he said in a video broadcast on Inside Edition. “Knocking the hell out of the big mouth. Next time we see him, we might have to kill him!”
McGraw was later charged with assault and battery and disorderly misconduct.
Cumberland County Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler said the deputies’ conduct was unacceptable.
“The actions of the deputies and their failures to act in situations such as that which occurred during the Trump rally at the Crown Coliseum have never been and will not ever be tolerated under the policies of this office,” said Butler.
According to The Associated Press, three deputies were demoted and suspended without pay for five days. Two other deputies were suspended without pay for three days.
The sheriff’s office declined to press charges against Trump for inciting violence, even though he was captured on video encouraging supporters to “knock this s**t out of” protesters and promised to pay the legal fees of people who were arrested. (Trump later denied saying this.)
Trump rallies have become the scenes of violent protests. The Atlanta Blackstar has reported several incidents of violence against Black people attending Trump rallies. At the same rally in Fayetteville, Black college student Adebayo Adeniyi reported that he was cursed at and punched in the face by Jason Wilton Wetzel. Adeniyi said he simply planned to witness the Trump rally but was mistaken for a protester. Adeniyi said the assault made him lose faith in America.
According to The New York Daily News, Wetzel later apologized for the attack.
“I can’t believe I did that. It was me, but I’m not a hateful man. I just got caught up. When I saw the video all over the news of me doing that to that young man, I was just disgusted with myself,” said Wetzel, who was once arrested for voter fraud.
But Adeniyi did not accept his apology.
“I have no criminal background,” said Adeniyi. “This man does. So please explain to me who the real thug is. A young Black man who is a junior in college majoring in medical laboratory science and who also happens to hold many leadership positions there? Or is it this man, with a criminal background who attacked me for no reason?”