Donald Trump ejected a black man waving a note at him at a North Carolina rally, after accusing him of being a “thug” hired by Democrats to disrupt the event.
But C.J. Cary, the man who was thrown out, claims he is a Trump supporter and was merely trying to deliver a message to the candidate to mend ties with some key demographic groups the GOP presidential nominee has offended.
At the Wednesday campaign rally in the town of Kinston, Cary stood a few dozen feet from the stage trying to get Trump’s attention by waving a note and yelling “Donald,” the Raleigh News & Observer reported.
Trump assumed Cary was a disruptive protester.
“Were you paid $1,500 to be a thug?” Trump asked Cary, according to the Observer. The real estate mogul then asked security to remove him.
Waving a note at a rally is certainly an unusual way to get a presidential candidate’s attention. The News & Observer’s Bryan Anderson, who was at the rally on Wednesday and reported on Friday that Cary is a Trump supporter, told The Huffington Post he initially thought the man was a protester as well.
In a tweet from the rally, Anderson simply referred to him as a “protester.”
Shortly after the rally, however, Cary contacted Anderson to tell him his story.
Cary, an ex-Marine and resident of Nash County, not far from where Kinston is located, told the reporter that he plans to vote for Trump. He merely wanted to offer his advice that the candidate should treat certain groups of Americans with more respect. He singled out African-Americans, women, college students and people with disabilities as constituencies that deserved better treatment from the GOP nominee.
“He entirely mistook that and thought that I was a protester,” Cary said.
Trump accused Clinton of paying Democratic activists to disrupt his rallies in the third and final presidential debate on Oct. 19.
In August, Trump’s security ejected Jake Anantha, a young Indian-American supporter from a Charlotte, North Carolina, rally after assuming the local college student was there to disrupt the event. Anantha subsequently said he would no longer be voting for Trump.
During the Republican primary, when protests at Trump rallies were more common, Trump drew criticism for encouraging his supporters to hurt protesters ― something they proved all too happy to oblige. The demonstrators on the receiving end of the worst violence appear to be disproportionately people of color.
There is something especially ironic, however, in Trump immediately dismissing as a “thug” a black supporter, who was specifically trying to get Trump to be more sensitive to African-Americans. “Thug” is a particularly racially fraught term that many observers, including Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman, argue has become a socially acceptable way to call black men the N-word.
Trump has historically low support among African-American voters, after months of inciting ― and benefitting from ― bigotry and racism.
Although Latino immigrants and Muslims have been the biggest targets of his campaign-trail invective, Trump has a long history of anti-black racism, from his public campaign to execute the Central Park 5 in 1989 to his leading role in the birther movement questioning President Barack Obama’s eligibility for the presidency. (The Central Park 5, young men of color accused of brutally raping a woman in Central Park, have since been exonerated by DNA evidence and received multi-million-dollar settlements from the city, but Trump continues to insist on their guilt.)
Even Trump’s attempts to show he is not racist have been racially insensitive. Trump routinely stereotypes African-Americans and Latinos as impoverished “inner-city” residents, a characterization members of those communities have complained is patronizing.