During the CNN GOP Debate, Donald Trump gave two explanations for the repeated violent reactions of some of his supporters to protests at Trump rallies. The first one being love for their country and anger at the current state of it, the second being this:

We have some protesters who are bad dudes, they have done bad things. They are swinging. They are really dangerous and they get in there and they start hitting people, and we had a couple of big strong powerful guys doing damage to people. Not only the loudness — the loudness I don't mind — but doing serious damage.

There are others that dispute the claim that violence originated from protesters, see eg The Washington Post.

Is there any evidence for cases where protesters at Trump rallies have gone in "swinging" and done "serious damage" before the CNN debate?

As there seems to be some confusion about the claim, please note: The question is about a specific statement Trump made. Trump made the statement in March about the past, not about future events which may or may not happen. It wouldn't make sense for Trump to justify assaults by his supporters with future assaults by protesters, so any events which happened after March 10th 2016 obviously do not support Trumps claim.

When I'm using "violence", I mean physical violence in the case of protesters as well as in the case of rally attendees.

A list of violence by Trump supporters can be found here (I haven't checked if it is complete). The earlier dates on that list are 10/01/2015, 10/02/2015, and 11/21/2015. As Trumps statement is meant as an explanation or defense of violence by his supporters, to verify the claim, an incident of a protester starting violence before 10/01/2015 would be great. Still, any events from before the CNN debate - which was on March the 10th - would help support his claim. This also means that the person trying to jump the stage in Dayton or the events in Chicago would not verify the claim, as they happened after the debate.

  • 7
    Isn't trying to disrupt a speech that people have come to hear a form of violence?
    – jamesqf
    Mar 12, 2016 at 21:18
  • 6
    @jamesqf Thanks, I clarified the question. I mean physical violence, as that is obviously what Trump is referring to. Protests also don't necessarily try to disrupt a speech (they may eg only show signs, only chant when Trump isn't speaking, etc).
    – tim
    Mar 12, 2016 at 21:22
  • 3
    @DJClayworth I agree, one case wouldn't really back up Trumps claim, as it is at least implied that this happens somewhat regularly, or that at least multiple people (they, a couple, etc) started acting (physically) violent (not in self defense). The notable claim here is that protesters start physically violent interactions at Trump rallies, so if there is evidence that this happens somewhat regularily, that would be a good answer. If there are notable sources that say that this doesn't happen, or that this only happened in a single instance, that would also be a good answer.
    – tim
    Mar 12, 2016 at 22:42
  • 2
    @DJClayworth And this isn't a question about violence from Trump supporters. That violence is well documented, and I don't think anyone doubts it, or the support Trump has given to these assault.
    – tim
    Mar 12, 2016 at 22:49
  • 8
    I find this kind of questions very very uninteresting...
    – Sklivvz
    Mar 13, 2016 at 9:30


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