Local News

Man charged with assaulting protester during Trump rally in Fayetteville

Posted March 10, 2016

— A 78-year-old Linden man has been charged with assaulting a protester at the rally held in Fayetteville Wednesday for Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

John Franklin McGraw was arrested Thursday morning and charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

A video posted on YouTube shows McGraw hitting Rakeem Jones of Fayetteville as he was being escorted out of Crown Coliseum by authorities.

Authorities said that Jones was being escorted out of the rally after disrupting Trump’s speech when McGraw edged his way to the end of the row and hit Jones in the head and face as deputies were looking away.

After being hit, Jones was tackled by law enforcement officials. A press release from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said several deputies did not see the attack happen.

“I was walking up the stairs. The railing was in front of me, as a matter of fact there was two other people in front of me, they walked past and I was really not paying attention to them so I’m walking and as soon as I turned, he hit me,” said Jones. "He hit me dead in my eye."

Jones was part of a group who started shouting in protest minutes after Trump took the stage Wednesday night. He said he gave McGraw the middle finger after he and many other attendees began yelling at the protesting group. Jones' group was the first of many protesters to be thrown out of the event.

Authorities said that McGraw could not be located Wednesday night, but cell phone video of the incident that was posted online led to an investigation and arrest.

"We went to work immediately to identify this man, and we did this morning," said Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler.

Ronnie Rouse captured the incident on camera.

"They're walking us out and they've got him prone because I thought he was getting arrested. I was like 'I know you're not taking him to jail. This is impossible'," Rouse recalled.

“No one should be subjected to such a cowardly, unprovoked act as that committed by McGraw. Regardless of political affiliation, speech, race, national origin, color, gender, bad reputation, prior acts, or political demonstration, no other citizen has the right to assault another person or to act in such a way as this defendant did,” said Butler.

Thursday night, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office announced that McGraw will face additional charges stemming from remarks he made at the event.

Authorities said that while reviewing video taken at the Crown Coliseum, they found that McGraw made statements threatening Jones and stating that he enjoyed hitting "that loudmouth who was 'not acting like an American'."

After viewing the video, detectives charged McGraw with communicating threats. His bond was increased from $2,500 to $5,000.

Deputies said that when McGraw was arrested, he was boastful and talkative to the media while refusing to speak to authorities. McGraw invoked his Miranda rights and demanded an attorney, authorities said.

The sheriff’s office said that an internal investigation reviewing the entire incident is ongoing. No further comment on the internal investigation could be made, they said.

The Trump campaign did not return a request for comment on the incident.


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  • Tony Biancardi Mar 16, 2016
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    Ah yes, Trump the uniter.

  • Rainey Blue Mar 12, 2016
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    Two words: sucker punch. Only the weak and cowards do that.

  • David McCabe Mar 11, 2016
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    It's a shame it turned violent. We shouldn't be at the point where we punch people over politicians but it seems that we are. With that being said it should be easy to figure out that when you yell, "**** You" and flip the double birds multiple times at a large group of people someone is bound to take offense. Guy found exactly who he was looking for.

  • Janet Ghumri Mar 11, 2016
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    Not for nothing, but that's one feisty old dude. He moved in on the guy being escorted out, and tossed that elbow like he had been waiting all day long.
    I wonder what happened before that? He wasn't going after just any protester, he was waiting for this guy, and he wasn't even watching to see if the officers were looking. I guess at his age, if you haven't had your 15 minutes of fame, you just have to jump in and elbow some guy in the peeper.

  • Michael Warren Mar 11, 2016
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    I know one thing for sure, if he is going to cry and complain about getting hit by a 78 year old man he could wipe the floor with, he seriously needs to turn in his man card

  • Michael Warren Mar 11, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    agreed, but the so called victim which the kid isn't should take responsibility for his actions and not go to a event he knows he could have that happen to him. I don't go to a NAACP meeting and start chanting racist words knowing what could happen to me, the child should know the same

  • John Snow Mar 11, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Half right- these are not private meetings (as if that changes anything) they are open to the public

  • Chase Truman Mar 11, 2016
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    View quoted thread


  • Kyle Clarkson Mar 11, 2016
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    According to the videos, and the article, the protester was being led out by law enforcement, when he was struck by someone else. That person was charged with assault. Assault is assault, and it was a sucker punch too!?! Very classy.

    Our nation's military personnel put their lives on the line to protect many constitutional rights. One of those is our right to protest. Many other countries do not have this right. Do you prefer North Korea's style of Government? The person who assaulted the protester obviously has no regards for our constitution.

  • Robert Belknap Mar 11, 2016
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    How easy and human would it be for Trmp to just say “I am very sad and upset that this happened. I appreciate everyone who comes out to see me, but I will not support any violence occurring at my events now or at any point in the future. We should not be encouraging this kind of action, and the guy should be held accountable.”

    It’s practically what any decent human being would do. Instead, we get the "passion" baloney . And he also doubled down on his “Islam hates us” statement and murdering the families of terrorists. He is the absolute worst stain I can imagine having a national voice.