Judge calls Trump 'particularly reckless,' refuses to throw out protesters' case

By Allen Cone  |  Updated April 3, 2017 at 6:27 AM
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April 2 (UPI) -- A federal judge, ruling against the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by protesters allegedly injured during a Donald Trump campaign rally in Louisvile, Ky., said the future president was "particularly reckless" in suggesting his supporters use violence.

U.S. District Judge David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky rejected defense motions to dismiss the case brought by three protesters seeking unspecified damages after saying they were assaulted by audience members during the rally on March 1, 2016.

Hale issued his ruling Friday.

Trump and three defendants in attendance -- Matthew Heimbach, a leader with the white supremacist group Traditional Youth Network from Paoli, Ind.; Alvin Bamberger, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association from Ohio; and an unknown individual -- are being sued.

Protesters Henry Brousseau, Kashiya Nwanguma and Molly Shah filed the lawsuit.

During the rally, Trump said, "Get 'em out of here."

Video of the rally appeared to show the men pushing and shoving Nwanguma out of the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Hale wrote that because violence broke out at an earlier Trump rally and hate group members were in the Louisville crowd, "ordering the removal of an African-American woman was thus particularly reckless."

"It is plausible that Trump's direction to 'get 'em out of here' advocated the use of force," Hale wrote. "It was an order, an instruction, a command."

The judge cited case law pertaining to 1960s race riots and student protests.

Trump's lawyer, R. Kent Westberry of Louisville, argued the supporters were acting on their own initiative and for their own purposes. And he also said political speech is fundamentally protected under the U.S. Constitution. But Hale noted speech inciting violence is not protected under the First Amendment.

The judge dismissed one of the plaintiffs' claims that the Trump campaign was "vicariously liable" for Heimbach and Bamberger's actions. Hale said because the men weren't employed by Trump or his campaign, they weren't under his control during the rally.

Jeff Klusmeier, chairman of Young Professionals for Trump who organized the rally, told the Courier-Journal he expects the case will eventually be dismissed.

"If anything, they should have been arrested," he said of the protesters. "They took part in promoting violence. They got the reaction they were looking for."

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