DAYTON, March 12, 2016 – An angry protester rushed Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio. Secret Service agents responded rapidly and professionally. The protester was later identified as Thomas Dimassimo and was later charged with disorderly conduct and inducing panic.
Dayton Airport Police Department Chief Mike Etter confirmed the charges. Dimassimo jumped bike racks and attempted to climb onto the stage, but was stopped by agents stationed there.
The man jumped a barrier surrounding the stage where the GOP front-runner spoke, but was tackled by law enforcement officers, said Dayton Police K-9 officer Nathan Spelman. The man ended up “in the back of a cop car,” officer Spelman told The Enquirer after Trump’s rally here in a hangar at the Dayton airport. “I imagine they’re going to jail.” At the Dayton-area event, Trump defended his supporters and his rallies.
“These are people that want to make America great again,” Trump said of his supporters. “A planned attack just came out of nowhere. … “They want me to tell my people: ‘Please be nice.’ My people are nice. … They caused no problem. They were taunted. They were harassed by these other people.”
The incident happened a day after Trump canceled a rally in Chicago as hundreds of protesters waited for him, leading to scuffles between them and his supporters. Trump mocked his political opponents for censuring his supporters and the environment at his rallies. “They all said: ‘At our rallies we would never have anything like that.’ Well, they don’t have any people at their rallies,” Trump said. “We cannot let our First Amendment rights be taken away from us, folks. We have a right to speak. We are law-abiding people. … We want to get along with everybody.”
One Trump supporter grabbed at a protester’s sign. In another instance, security staff grabbed and pushed another man, who was holding a sign that said: “Make America hate again.” But the event was largely free of physical altercations. Besides the interruption on stage, several individual demonstrators interrupted the event before being escorted out by law enforcement officers. “Shut up! Get out of here!” one man yelled at Trump on his way out.
Trump is under scrutiny for violence at a number of his rallies in the past week: The Chicago skirmishes came after a man was charged with assault for punching a protester at a Fayetteville, North Carolina, event Wednesday night, and Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields accused Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of yanking her arm aggressively when she tried to ask the candidate a question Tuesday night.
Marco Rubio slammed Trump Saturday, warning that violence “is what the Republican Party’s going to be defined by” if Trump is the nominee.
“This is what a culture and a society looks like when everyone goes around saying whatever the heck they want,” Rubio said. “The result is, it all breaks down. It’s called chaos. It’s called anarchy. And that’s what we’re careening towards.”
Trump has courted criticism for remarks appearing to encourage violence against the protesters who have increasingly been disrupting his rallies. In St. Louis on Friday, he mocked those who interrupted his speech and were removed by police, telling them to “go get a job” and one to “go back to mommy.”
After his rally in Chicago was called off, Trump told Fox News the protesters there weren’t directing their anger at him.