A federal judge ruled on Friday, March 31, that President Donald Trump incited violence against three protesters at a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Courier-Journal reported that U.S. District Judge David J. Hale ruled that the protesters had established sufficient evidence to proceed with their case against Trump, 70, and rejected the president’s attorneys’ free speech defense.
The protesters, Henry Brousseau, Kashiya Nwanguma and Molly Shah, claim they were assaulted by the real estate mogul’s supporters at the Louisville rally last year after he repeatedly urged the crowd to “get ’em out of here.” Trump’s lawyers argued that Trump didn’t anticipate his supporters would use force.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” Hale wrote in his 22-page ruling. “Unlike the statements at issue in the cases cited by the Trump Defendants, ‘get ’em out of here’ is stated in the imperative; it was an order, an instruction, a command.”
Hale also wrote in the ruling that the removal of Nwanguma, an African-American woman, was “particularly reckless.” The judge declined to remove allegations that Nwanguma was a victim of racial, ethnic and sexist slurs from Trump’s supporters.
One of the Trump supporters named in the lawsuit, Matthew Heimbach, is a leader of the white nationalist group Traditional Youth Network. Politico reported that Heimbach sought to remove references to the group, but Hale ruled that Heimbach’s statements “toward non-whites and persons who oppose Trump” can stay in the record as the case moves forward.
After last year’s incident, Trump called the protesters “bad dudes” who were “really dangerous.”
Nwanguma, Shah and Brousseau, who are seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, have accused Heimbach and another man of assault and battery. They have also accused the Trump campaign of incitement to riot, negligence, gross negligence and recklessness.