In the early years of his rise to power, Adolph Hitler utilized his "brown shirts" - the German term was Sturmabteilung, or "SA" - who among other things keep down protesters at Nazi rallies and later work ed to intimidate those opposed to Hitler and the Nazi regime. At a rally in Reno, Nevada, the world got to witness Donald Trump's unofficial equivalent to Hitler's SA when a self-identified Republican who opposes Trump was attacked by Trump loyalists simply for holding up a sign that stated "Republicans Against Trump." Trump, of course, has done nothing to discourage his supporters from engaging in violence and has even urged them on in some instances. The sad reality is that Trump's message of hatred and bigotry sets the stage for these acts of violence. Combined with Trump's desire to stifle freedom of the press and to change the libel laws so as to silence critics, his supporters' willingness to resort to violence is more than disturbing. A piece in The Guardian looks at the experience of the Reno protester. Here are excerpts:
The man whose protest saw Donald Trump rushed off the stage by Secret Service agents has said the Republican nominee’s supporters turned on him when he held up a sign reading: “Republicans against Trump.”
The man, who identified himself as Austyn Crites from Reno, told the Guardian he was holding the sign at a rally when Trump supporters wrestled him to the ground.
The 33-year-old – who says he has been a registered Republican for about six years – said he was kicked, punched and choked, and feared for his life when the crowd turned on him at the gathering in Reno, Nevada.
Crites cited Trump’s treatment of Mexicans, Muslims and women as the reason he decided to protest again Trump, who he described as “a textbook version of a dictator and a fascist”.
The Guardian found a bruised and shocked-looking Crites outside the auditorium. He said he was shaken and had pain in the back, but was otherwise uninjured.
Crites, who said he was an inventor who works with high-altitude balloons, said the incident occurred after he walked toward the front of the stage to protest silently against Trump.
He confirmed witness descriptions of him moving through the crowd toward the front. However, he said he was not barging through but saying: “Can I please come through, can I please come through.”
When he was near the front of the crowd, he said he silently held aloft his sign.
Initially, there was the expected reaction of people around him booing, he said. “And then all of a sudden people next to me are starting to get violent; they’re grabbing at my arm, trying to rip the sign out of my hand,” he said.
He said he could not be sure but “it looked like” Trump was pointing at him, and may have been “instigating something”. Either way, the crowd piled on him, he said, kicking, punching, holding him on the ground and grabbing his testicles.
Crites said when he was on the ground he heard someone yell “something about a gun” and he kept telling those on top of him that he had merely been holding a sign.
For his part, Crites said he felt relieved when police arrived and placed him in handcuffs, but said officers had to fend off Trump supporters who continued to attack him. “As I was taken from the room, people are just looking at me like I’m a demon,” he said.
He said he was taken to the back of the auditorium, searched, subjected to a background check and then swiftly released.
Although he described himself as a Republican and fiscal conservative, Crites said he had canvassed “for a few hours” with the Clinton campaign in Nevada because he wanted to do all he could to prevent a Trump presidency.
He said he was not fully supportive of Clinton but believed she was the only candidate who could stop Trump from reaching the White House.
Crites said he had not formal connection to the Clinton campaign and decided to attend the rally on his own volition.
Sadly, too few Americans know accurate history. They continue to close their eyes to the threat that Trump poses both to the nation and to minority groups that do not fit into his white supremacist vision for America.