NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, March 11, 2016, 6:15 PM
Donald Trump was not yet near his Chicago rally turned melee Friday night when protesters tangled in confrontation with the Republican front-runner’s fervent supporters. Shoves, fists and screams tore through the arena, promoting Trump to cancel — and then to insist on CNN “I take no responsibility.” Of course he doesn’t.
Trump rallies are large, testament to the rage he channels and exploits. When thousands of passionate people gather to hoot and holler, it is no surprise that scuffles sometimes happen.
That itself is not the scandal. The scandal is that a man who aspires to be leader of the United States of America and a role model to its children has behaved like a soccer hooligan, gleefully stirring up violence rather than seeking to calm it.
The intensity of the fury, its personal nature, the fact that it frequently turns violent — including Friday in St. Louis — that’s all on Trump.
Case in point: As a protester was being removed yesterday, Trump declared “part of the problem, and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.”
Here he was, speaking chillingly about a protester from the podium on Feb. 1: “Knock the crap out of him, would, you? Seriously, OK, just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees, I promise, I promise.”
And on Feb. 23: “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Four days later, about another protester: “In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast, but today everybody is politically correct.”
Sure, Trump typically throws in a perfunctory “don’t hurt ’em” or two, but by any legal definition, he has incited violence.
In November, a peaceful Black Lives Matter protester was punched and kicked. Asked about the incident the following day, Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” (He was being loud.)
This week, a 78-year-old man sucker-punched a protester who was already in the custody of police and being escorted out. Disgustingly, Friday Trump praised that behavior: “The audience hit back,” he told reporters in Palm Beach, Fla. “And that’s what we need a little bit more of.”
In February, a Time Magazine photographer was body-slammed by a Secret Service agent as he dared to leave the pen to take pictures of protesters. Trump’s people shrugged.
And this week, Michelle Fields, a reporter for the conservative website Breitbart, was grabbed and yanked down to the ground while trying to ask Trump a question. She and another eyewitness say the grabber was Trump’s campaign manager. Friday, as Fields pressed charges, Trump and his flunkies denied, denied, denied.
Challenged about all this in Thursday night’s debate, Trump said he “truly” hoped he hadn’t created a violent climate, and “do not condone that at all” — in the next breath adding that some protesters “are bad dudes” who, the insinuation went, got what they deserved.
This is pure Trump: urging fisticuffs like a thug, then ducking responsibility like a coward. Keep him away from the presidency.