Monday evening’s anti-Donald Trump demonstration and march at Ohio State University had been fairly typical of those witnessed across the country in the past week.
However, as the rally arrived at the Ohio Union, a protestor delivering a speech was violently pushed from a flight of stairs above the crowd.
Both individuals clattered onto the tile floor, triggering a brief outbreak of reactionary violence from bystanders. Authorities quickly separated the crowd while some people attended to the victim, Timothy Adams, whose glasses and bullhorn had been smashed on the floor.
The perpetrator was then arrested and led away. A few minutes later, the speaker stood to his feet and, attempting to dispel the startled crowd’s anger, called out to laughter: “Can I finish my speech now?”
Adams was an organizer and leader of the demonstration. According to university representatives, the attacker, Shane Michael Stanton, was arrested and has been placed under indefinite suspension from Ohio State following his actions.
In an interview with the student paper The Lantern, the Undergraduate Student Government President Gerard Basalla said, “The assault that occurred—that’s what it was—in the Union tonight is completely unacceptable. Every person on this campus has the right to feel safe and voice their opinion without fearing harm. We can’t be having this.”
This particular violent exchange in Columbus has resulted in fear and anxiety from some who attended the otherwise peaceful protest, but the president of Students for Trump, Nick Davis, was quick to condemn the attack and distance his movement from the violence, confirming that Stanton was not a member of their organization.
Since the announcement of Trump’s victory in the presidential election, protests like this have been organized across the country on city streets and college campuses. Tensions have been riding high, and reports of politically motivated attacks have peppered the news.
In one incident in Chicago, footage emerged of a middle-aged man being beaten by a gang in the streets after a traffic incident. His car was also stolen as onlookers taunted and laughed at the victim, who is alleged to have been a Trump supporter.
These incidents are occurring sporadically, but are quickly utilized by some to drive political tensions. The footage from the Chicago attack found its way to pro-Trump website InfoWars, where it was granted the inflammatory all-caps headline: “SHOCK VIDEO: BLACK MOB VICIOUSLY BEATS WHITE TUMP VOTER.” Left-leaning publications have similarly bent the news in condemnation of their political foes.
The role of new media groups and hyper-partisan publications in aggravating the electorate continues to come under increased scrutiny, but manufacturing public outrage can only serve these acts of violence.
Adams concluded his speech at Ohio State on Monday after the assault with a warning against this normalization of extreme behavior and posed that, “ultimately, coming together is the only thing that’s going to stop any kind of violence.”