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Anti-Trump Protester Punched, Kicked At Tucson Rally

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 20/03/2016 Andrew Hart
ANTITRUMP PROTESTER PUNCHED TRUMP PROTEST TRUMP PR © Frank Thorp V for NBC News ANTITRUMP PROTESTER PUNCHED TRUMP PROTEST TRUMP PR

Violence erupted at yet another Donald Trump rally Saturday when a protester was hit and kicked by a Trump supporter and Trump’s campaign manager was seen yanking the collar of a demonstrator on video.

The incidents add to the list of violent episodes that have followed Trump’s increasingly hostile and divisive campaign.

Video posted by NBC News’ Frank Thorp V shows security personnel escorting a protester out of the Tucson Convention Center, after which a black man is seen grabbing the person and unleashing a series of punches and kicks that send the protester to the ground.

Police then intervened, handcuffing the man who dealt the blows and escorting both him and the protester out of the building.

It is striking that one of the few Trump supporters arrested for attacking protesters in recent months was African-American. There have been far fewer arrests for assault at Trump rallies than reported incidents of violence, according to a HuffPost analysis.

The Tucson Police Department could not immediately be reached for details of what occurred at the rally.

Many protesters were in the stadium, including a group of people holding "Dump Trump" posters. Trump’s security staff removed many while he spoke.

At the start of his speech, Trump appeared to heed the advice of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who asked him to condemn violence at his rallies after a string of violent incidents raised GOP concerns about Trump’s viability in the general election.

"We love our protesters, don’t we?" Trump said after the first protester spoke out off camera.

But 10 minutes into Trump’s speech, two protesters, one wearing a Ku Klux Klan mask, were escorted out, and Trump changed his tone.

"They're troublemakers, they're no good, and we have to be careful," Trump said. "We've gotta take our country back, folks. We gotta take our country back, very simple."

"That is a disgusting guy, really disgusting," he continued. “Get him out of here, get him out,” he said, prompting loud cheers.

A video of Trump's rally shows the exchange. 

Trump also brought out his familiar rhetoric of "making America great again," and his lament that the U.S. "doesn’t win anymore." He also restated his intention to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border at Mexico's expense. Later, he brought onstage a woman holding a "Latinos Support Trump" sign.

Trump's campaign later said the man was not pulled by Lewandowski, but by a man to his left.

Earlier in March, former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields accused Lewandowski of assaulting her after a press conference.

Violence has followed Trump’s campaign events around the nation, and the GOP presidential front-runner has refused to take responsibility for it or condemn it. Instead, he has defended his combative supporters, blamed demonstrators for bringing it on themselves, encouraged violent acts at his rallies and offered to pay the legal fees of supporters who fight for him.

The scene in Tucson closely resembled a similar altercation earlier in March, where a Trump supporter sucker-punched a protester in North Carolina.

Earlier on Saturday, three people were arrested after protesters blocked off a road near a Trump rally in Fountain Hills Park, Arizona. In Chicago, Trump’s rally was canceled after thousands of protesters overwhelmed campaign staff and security, resulting in clashes and arrests. One day later in Kansas City, Missouri, demonstrators were pepper-sprayed and some were arrested.

At least 55 people have been arrested or cited in connection with Trump events from Feb. 29 to March 19, according to a HuffPost survey of police departments. And there is a long way yet to go in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump leads Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ahead of the Arizona primary on Tuesday.

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

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