A Kentucky federal judge has ruled that a startling lawsuit accusing then-candidate Donald Trump of inciting violence at a campaign rally last year can proceed. The suit was brought forward by three protesters who say they were roughed up by three Trump supporters that the newly-elected president had provoked. The Trump supporters are also being sued.
Trump told the audience at a Louisville rally in March 2016 to “get ‘em out of here,” referring to the protesters — two women and a teenage boy — who were at the Kentucky International Convention Center. The confrontation that followed was caught on video footage that went viral.
Trump’s attorneys argued that the suit should not be allowed to go forward because his speech was protected under the First Amendment — and that he didn’t intend for violence to occur.
U.S. District Judge David Hale ruled that the protesters’ injuries may have been a “direct and proximate result” of Trump’s actions, and that there is no First Amendment protection for speech that incites violence.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” Hale wrote in his ruling issued Friday. “It was an order, an instruction, a command. Trump’s statement at least implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.”
One of the men accused of participating in the attack, Alvin Bamberger, said in a letter cited by the judge: “Trump kept saying, ‘get them out, get them out,’ and people in the crowd began pushing and shoving the protesters. I physically pushed a young woman.”
Plaintiffs Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau are suing Trump and the Trump campaign for incitement to riot, negligence, as well as gross negligence and recklessness. They are seeking unspecified damages.
The judge dismissed part of the suit claiming that Trump and the campaign were “vicariously liable” for assault and battery. Hale said that the men accused of attacking the protesters — who are also being sued — were not employed by the Trump campaign, nor were they under Trump’s direct control.