According to The Washington Post, the incident occurred at Trump’s rally on Saturday (March 19) in Tucson. As protester Bryan Sanders was escorted out of the venue, he was struck by Tony Pettway a reported five times before officers restrained him.
Pettway was arrested and charged with suspicion of misdemeanor assault with injury. The 32-year-old is also an airman at Tuscon’s Davis-Monthan Air Base.
“I’m an independent,” he said, smoking a cigarette. “I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I was protesting Trump’s fascism, his racism, his lies and his women-hating. Nobody got punched,” he said of the senator’s rally. “[I’ve been to a Sanders rally.] Nobody got thrown out. There were no protests. And the reason is that there’s two different things going on here. You’ve got this, which is fascism and an angry mob. And then you’ve got what happened last night with Bernie. And that’s democracy.”
In recent weeks, videos of White Trump supporters pushing and hitting Black Trump protesters have highlighted the racial tension intrinsic to the GOP frontrunner’s campaign.
Meanwhile, a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood was escorted out of the rally. Trump didn’t acknowledge Pettway’s actions, but called out the costume:
“There’s a disgusting guy, puts on a Ku Klux Klan hat on, he thinks he is cute — he’s a disgusting guy,” Trump told the crowd, who overwhelmingly booed in agreement. “These are not good people, folks. They’re throwing the flag all over the place… And they’re not really protesters, they’re agitators. And if [Maricopa County] Sheriff Joe [Arpaio] was here, they’d be in jail already. I want to tell you that. They’d be in jail a long time ago.”