A Kentucky federal judge has approved a lawsuit filed by three protesters who were assaulted at a Donald Trump rally last year during the campaign season. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs that Trump’s words from the podium incited the assaults.
According to the Courier Journal, the protesters are suing Trump for “incitement, vicarious liability, negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness.”
During the rally last March, Trump called for his supporters to deal with some protesters who were chanting and holding signs during the event. “Get ’em out of here!” Trump said to his audience. U.S. District Judge David J. Hale said that Trump’s words were “particularly reckless” and likely provoked rally attendees to attack the protesters. One of the assailants, a known white supremacist, is on record saying that he took Trump’s words to be a green light to start shoving a protester, who happened to be a young African American woman. Judge Hale used the assailant’s own words to justify the decision.
From the Courier Journal:
Citing case law from tumultuous 1960s race riots and student protests, Hale rejected motions to dismiss the pending complaint against Trump and three supporters in the crowd that was filed by three protesters after a March 1, 2016, campaign rally in Louisville. Only a portion of the defendants’ motion was granted, but the decision means that the bulk of the claims will proceed. Hale referred the case to Magistrate Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl.
The protesters, Henry Brousseau, Kashiya Nwanguma and Molly Shah, are seeking unspecified monetary damages. They claim they were assaulted by audience members who were riled up by Trump. Besides Trump, the lawsuit names three defendants in attendance — Matthew Heimbach, a leader with the white supremacist group Traditional Youth Network from Paoli, Indiana; and Alvin Bamberger, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association from Ohio; and an unknown individual.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” Judge Hale wrote, addressing Trump’s claim that his words are protected by his right to free speech. “It was an order, an instruction, a command. … Trump’s statement at least implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.”