An elderly North Carolina man has been accused of punching a similarly elderly female protester in the face outside a Donald Trump rally in Asheville, North Carolina, on 12 September 2016. According to an attorney representing him, the man was attempting to leave the rally when the incident involving a 68-year-old female protester occurred.
An Asheville police incident report stated that the alleged assault occurred at 8:41 p.m. local time when protesters and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump clashed outside the rally, which had started nearly three hours earlier at the U.S. Cellular Center. The report listed Shirley Teter, 68, of Asheville, as the victim.
Video alleged to be from the incident shows a woman wearing a pink shirt and red backpack who appears to be Teter walking through a raucous crowd and reaching out to a man in a white shirt from behind, using her left arm. As soon as she does so, the camera tumbles away from focus and people start screaming:
Based on interviews with witnesses and Teter, Asheville police felt they had evidence to issue an arrest warrant for Richard L. Campbell, 73, of Edisto Island, South Carolina, for the misdemeanor charge of assault on a female. The incident report listed Teter’s injuries as minor.
In an interview with local television station WLOS, Teter stated that she approached Campbell at the rally and told him he “better learn to speak Russian … and the first two words are going to be ‘ha ha.'” She claimed Campbell then “stopped in his tracks and he turned around and just cold-cocked me.”
Ruth Smith, a civil attorney representing Campbell, said her client has cataracts and was being lead away from the rally through a gauntlet of screaming protesters in an effort to go home. Smith said Campbell did not punch Teter but rather “reflexively moved his arm to release himself from Ms. Teeter’s grip, causing her to fall.”
Smith claims that Campbell never even saw the victim, saying that “We’re looking forward to the court date and having the truth come out. We think her story will fall apart like wet toilet paper.”
Asheville police spokeswoman Christina Hallingse told us that none of the city’s officers witnessed the incident, and after taking Teter’s statement they gave her a lift home. Hallingse added that Campbell would probably be issued a notice to appear in court, as opposed to being taken into custody. As of 14 September 2016, he hadn’t yet been arrested or turned himself in, but Smith told us he was planning to do so.
This wasn’t the only such incident at the chaotic rally, at which five people were arrested. John Boyle, columnist for the Asheville-based newspaper the Citizen-Times, described the entire spectacle between Trump supporters and protesters alike as “ugly.”