The man whose protest saw Donald Trump rushed off the stage by Secret Service agents has said the Republican nominee’s supporters turned on him when he held up a sign reading: “Republicans against Trump”.
The man, who identified himself as Austyn Crites from Reno, told the Guardian he was holding the sign at a rally when Trump supporters wrestled him to the ground.
The 33-year-old – who says he has been a registered Republican for about six years – said he was kicked, punched and choked, and feared for his life when the crowd turned on him at the gathering in Reno, Nevada.
Crites cited Trump’s treatment of Mexicans, Muslims and women as the reason he decided to protest again Trump, who he described as “a textbook version of a dictator and a fascist”.
There were panicked scenes at the Trump rally, apparently prompted by shouts from at least one person in the crowd that the protester had a gun.
Hundreds of people fled to the the back of the auditorium in panic as Trump was hurriedly rushed from the stage by his security detail.
Several Trump supporters who witnessed the incident told the Guardian they saw a man wrestled to the ground and, after he was on the ground, heard shouts that he had a weapon, prompting panic.
One of those witnesses, a Trump supporter, said he had seen the protester holding a “Republicans against Trump” sign, and assumed it had been misidentified as a weapon.
Although he described himself as a Republican and fiscal conservative, Crites said he had canvassed “for a few hours” with the Clinton campaign in Nevada because he wanted to do all he could to prevent a Trump presidency
He said he was not fully supportive of Clinton but believed she was the only candidate who could stop Trump from reaching the White House.
Crites said he had not formal connection to the Clinton campaign and decided to attend the rally on his own volition.
“[Evan] McMullin is someone I also support,” he said of the independent conservative standing for president on many states, and added that he backed Trump’s Republican opponents during the primaries. “John Kasich, for example, was a great candidate.”
Crites said he felt Trump supporters were well-meaning but simply misguided by Trump’s demagoguery. “He’s fascist, he’s a dictator,” he said of the Republican nominee, saying such leaders turn normal people “into animals”.
While he was surprised at what occurred at the rally, Crites he said he did not blame the crowd for his treatment. “I like these people,” he said. “These are my fellow Americans. I love these people. I understand that they came here because they’re patriotic, they want to do good for their country.”
He added: “The people who attacked me – I’m not blaming them. I’m blaming Donald Trump’s hate rhetoric.”
“My heart still aches for what this nation could potentially do by electing him,” he added. “That hurts me much more than any of this violence.”
“The fact that I got beat up today, that’s just showing what he’s doing to his crowds. But I just want people to understand I’m going to be OK, but now what’s more important is if the country going to be OK? So do your part and vote.”
I am starting to consider whether the entire Cliven Bundy/BLM incident was also part of a pysop to determine who would be the “first responders” in a situation like this; and to see what channels of communication are utilized by the protesters / militias.
Don’t pretend for a second they haven’t been monitoring the net for every mention of this. Not a single mainstream outlet covered the event with any substance, but the story went national anyway. The White House chose not to respond.
The Feds now knows what the “tipping point” for citizen action is, as well.
Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher prominent in protests to end federal control of western lands, is being held in the Multnomah County Detention Center. His sons Ammon and Ryan were arrested Jan. 27 and are there as well.