Johnson Calls for End to Violence at Trump Rallies

MARIETTA, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson called on Americans to civilly debate their political disagreements and disregard the political opinions of noncitizens.

In a video posted Monday on Facebook, Johnson, R-6 Ohio, reacted to violence at a Donald Trump rally last week in San Jose, Calif. The congressman evoked the memory of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. , “[who] showed us how responsible and moral people protest injustice and it wasn’t by spitting and punching or waving the flag of another country,” he said.

“Now I’ll be voting for Donald Trump but there are many things where he and I disagree, and I’ve expressed that disagreement civilly and within the bounds of the law, but the violence and hate of these protestors must stop,” Johnson said.

He called the violence, shown in a montage of news footage early in the video, “very troubling” and warned the country was “being torn apart by political disagreements.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, recently has been critical of the judge overseeing a lawsuit against his Trump University, frequently referencing his Mexican heritage. Trump has said U.S. District Judge, Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana, is biased because of the GOP candidate’s stance on illegal immigration and his pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Some protestors at Trump rallies have carried Mexican flags.

“If you’re not a citizen of this country, your political opinion doesn’t mean anything to us here. Americans discuss the issues surrounding our elections among ourselves. Your opinion matters in your own country but not in ours,” Johnson said.

Johnson called on citizens who disagree with Trump to speak out and air their concerns but without assaulting others. He told Americans and noncitizens alike that if they turn to physical violence to express their viewpoints, their opinions become worthless.

“That’s because you’re no longer part of the political system, you become part of the criminal justice system. You should be arrested and sent to jail with the other thugs who use violence to try and get their way,” he said.

Trump supporters also have acted violently against protestors at Trump events, and his former rivals for the GOP nomination have accused him of inciting violence at his events.

“Whether it’s pro-Trump protestors or anti-Trump protesters who are using violence, they should all be arrested and jailed,” Johnson said in an email drawing reporters’ attention to his video. “You can disagree with a candidate without spitting, punching and throwing eggs just as I choose to disagree with Hillary Clinton’s poor record in public office through thoughtful discussion and debate.”

Johnson said in his email that speaking out against the Trump rally violence might make him a target of criticism and possibly even “death threats” but said the cost of remaining silent was “too great.”

He called on people who agree with him to sign a petition, and he would subsequently announce to the news media “how many Americans are willing to make a stand.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.