Local News

Clash at Trump rally ends in probation, handshake

Posted December 14, 2016 10:00 a.m. EST
Updated December 14, 2016 12:50 p.m. EST

— Nine months after a protester was punched at a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville, the men on both sides of the fist shook hands in court on Wednesday.

John Franklin McGraw, 79, of Linden, was charged with assault and battery, disorderly conduct and communicating threats after sucker-punching Rakeem Jones as he was being escorted out of Crown Coliseum by Cumberland County deputies for disrupting the March 9 rally.

McGraw, a former Golden Gloves boxer nicknamed "Quick Draw," pleaded no contest to the assault and disorderly conduct charges on Wednesday and was given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and a year on unsupervised probation. The communicating threats charge was dropped.

"You know what you did, and I know what I did. I'm not going to say you were wrong or I'm wrong," McGraw told Jones in the courtroom. "I hate it worse than anything in the world. If I met you in the street and the same thing occurred, I would have said, 'Go on home. One of us will get hurt.' That's what I would have said. But we are caught up in a political mess today, and you and me, we got to heal our country."

The two men then shook hands and hugged, as others in the courtroom applauded.

"I just felt good being able to shake his hand and being able to, you know, being able to actually face him," Jones said after the court hearing.

The altercation at the rally led Cumberland County authorities to briefly consider charging Trump with inciting a riot, and they later demoted three deputies and suspended two others who saw the assault but took no action.