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Victim faces backlash for forgiving man who threw punch at Trump rally

Posted December 19, 2016

— The Fayetteville man who shared a handshake and a hug with the man who punched him in the face during a Donald Trump rally is being criticized for his decision to forgive.

Rakeem Jones never expected people to respond the way they did to the video and still images of him shaking John McGraw’s hand.

McGraw, a former Golden Gloves boxer nicknamed "Quick Draw," pleaded no contest to assault and disorderly conduct charges on Wednesday and was given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and a year on unsupervised probation for punching Jones at a March rally.

Jones said he doesn’t agree with how everything played out in the judicial system, but as for his choice to forgive, he left court that day at peace.

“I slept like a baby that day. I didn’t care. I saw my phone blowing up. I put it on ‘do not disturb’ and went to sleep,” Jones said.

Jones and McGraw had found middle ground and embraced in court. It seemed harmless and perhaps even inspiring.

“The next thing you know, my phone is blowing up like ‘you’re all over’ and I’m like ‘for what? A handshake’,” Jones recalled.

The images of the hug and handshake sparked hundreds of shares and comments on social media. Many suggested black people, such as Jones, are often too quick to turn the other cheek. They said it wasn’t just a handshake, but an elderly white man getting a pass for taking a cheap shot at a young black man during a Trump rally.

“Yesterday I decided to look up YouTube and I put my name in and I’ve seen videos where people took 20 minutes of their day just to call me all kinds of names and I’m like you don’t even know me,” Jones said.

Jones said the handshake was not planned but he does not regret it because he’s setting an example for his young son.

"He actually saw when Mr. McGraw said 'we might have to kill him. Like, he seen it," Jones said. “It was just the thing of, you know, being a man and letting it go. Some things you just have to let go."

To the people who have made comments on social media suggesting Jones should have handled the encounter differently, he believes they should mind their own business.

“For those people, like nobody is going to come bail me out. Nobody is going to make sure my kid gets to the bus stop every morning, nobody is going to make sure my girl can do what she’s got to do. So, keep your opinion to yourself and that’s just me being nice,” he said. “Keep your opinion to yourself because, at the end of the day, it wasn’t you.”

Jones said not many people have seen the part of the video that takes place before the handshake, when he very clearly said he doesn't agree with McGraw's one year of unsupervised probation or the part where he asks McGraw to come and speak with him face to face, which is how the handshake happened in the first place.


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  • Forest Hazel Dec 20, 2016
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    The folks who are upset because Mr. Jones was man enough to forgive the man who hit him should take a long walk on a short dock....

  • Carrie Hurrelbrink Dec 20, 2016
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    Mr Jones and Mr McGraw proved that everyone can forgive and unite if they choose to. See these two men shake hands and hug was the sign of two real men.

  • Patty MacRae Dec 20, 2016
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    Mr. Jones- if you left court that day in peace, you made the right choice. More people should let their conscience be their guide rather than the unknown masses on social media, those who know nothing of you and little of the circumstances. Best wishes to you.

  • Mary Jones Dec 20, 2016
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    "When they go low, we go high..."

  • Chris Cole Dec 20, 2016
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    These two people should that in the face of a deep divide there is a way to have unity. It is sad that few people in these comments want to keep the divide instead of seeing this act as something we should all model ourselves after.

  • Rick Nolte Dec 20, 2016
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    Definitely more class than the deplorables!

  • Rick Nolte Dec 20, 2016
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    Liberals have always been able to forgive.

  • David Craft Dec 20, 2016
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    No matter what Mr. Jones political beliefs he is giving hope for a possible future in our young people.. Stand and be proud young man. Vengance is a waste of time...

  • Eric Rothman Dec 20, 2016
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    The fact that anyone could be mad that this classy young man forgave someone is ridiculous and shows how people just want to instigate things. Now some things are unforgivable, but this is not one-off them. This young man showed class, intelligence, and kindness! We need more people like him and now those who are judging him!

  • Ann Thomas Dec 20, 2016
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    So proud of you , Mr. Jones!