By Suzannah Weiss
May 28, 2017
Matthew Heimbach, who was caught on film shoving a black protester at a Louisville, Kentucky rally for then-candidate Donald Trump rally, filed a lawsuit last month blaming Trump for inciting his actions. In the suit, Heimbach claims that he was acting “pursuant to the directives and requests of” Trump, who yelled “Get ’em outta here!” when the crowd shouted at protesters. The suit points out that Trump also told supporters at an Iowa rally to “knock the crap out of” protesters, and promised to pay their legal fees.
Kashiya Nwanguma, the woman Heimbach allegedly pushed, accused him of assault and battery in her own lawsuit, according to the New York Times, a filing that also argues that Trump is liable for the shoving. The president challenged this suit, but a judge ruled that he had in fact been “reckless” for egging on the crowd.
Both these lawsuits reflect a pattern: Trump’s election does appear to have encouraged discrimination and hate crimes. New York Police Department reported 42% more hate crimes between November 8 and February 19 than it did a year before, and 72% of them were antisemitic. This uptick was observed throughout the country: Nine big U.S. cities saw a 20% increase in hate crimes last year. In November, the Trump Hate Map had recorded more than 140 incidents “where Donald Trump, his supporters, or his staff harassed or attacked Latinos and immigrants.”
Mother Jones writer Wes Enzinna said he witnessed Heimbach’s evolution from someone who disavowed Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan to an outright white nationalist, which he takes as further evidence that Trump has fueled white supremacy. Heimbach’s lawsuit is “a revealing indication of the far right’s symbiotic relationship with Trump,” he wrote. “White nationalists, apparently, really do believe the president has been nudging them to commit violence, or at least promising to tolerate it if they do.”
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