Donald Trump has been widely criticized for failing to condemn supporters who grow violent at his rallies, but he has now stated he will vouch for the people who throw the punches.
“There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience,” Trump told people at a rally in Iowa last month. “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
This was not the first time that Trump rallies grew violent. There have been countless instances when protesters have been pushed, shoved and sucker punched by Trump supporters. Trump argues that it is the protesters who are the first one’s to get violent, even though most footage proves other wise.
There is speculation as to whether or not Trump’s intention is to promote violence or if it’s something that stems solely from public turmoil.
Jenna Jeko, freshman biology major, said, “I know that there’s a lot of violence at his rallies and I don’t necessarily think it’s coming from him. I think it’s mostly from his supporters.”
Jeko explained her friend, who is Italian, recently attended a Trump rally carrying a sign that read “Illegal Immigration Started in 1492.” Jeko said that throughout the rally her friend was violently pushed and shoved by attendees.
“She’s my age, 18, so for people to be screaming obscene things at her and getting physical with her both on the supporting and protesting side is ridiculous,” Jeko said.
Dona Warren, assistant dean for curriculum and student affairs, believes that to to the best of her knowledge, Trump is not consciously promoting violence.
“I think what he is consciously promoting is himself,” Warren said. “He’s not a trained politician and with being a trained politician you get a certain set of skills, among those is being very circumspect in what you think and say. He clearly doesn’t have that, which is part of his appeal.”
Warren explains that Trump may simply be saying provocative things to receive attention and self promote.
“He wants to be president and he hasn’t gone through the normal rights of passage of politicians in this culture,” Warren said. “He’s getting applauded for things from a very local group of people and I think he’s responding to that reinforcement.”
Warren believes that very little good can come from protesting at one of Trump’s rallies because while the odds of changing someone’s mind is slim, the chance of violence is high.
When asked about the violence taking place at his rallies Trump responds that it is protesters, not his supporters that are starting the violence.
“We have some protestors who are bad dudes,” Trump said. “They had done bad things. They are swinging. They are really dangerous. We had a couple big strong powerful guys, doing damage to people. And if they’re going to be taken out, I’ll be honest. We have to run something.”
One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, finds it hard to trust anything related to the Trump candidacy.
“What scares me is that he’s a reality TV star, so what is he doing for the rise, the ratings, to be relevant and what does he actually believe? What part of his candidacy is just publicity and what is real?”