Trump supporter, protester he punched at rally hug in court

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FAYETTEVILLE, NC (WNCN/AP) — A 79-year-old Trump supporter who was caught on video sucker-punching a protester at a Fayetteville rally in March received probation Wednesday in connection with the incident.

John Franklin McGraw, 79, of Linden, was captured on video punching Rakeem Jones as he was being escorted out of the rally by Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office deputies. The video was tweeted by New York Daily News writer Shaun King.

In a video later posted by Inside Edition shortly after the incident, McGraw defended his actions.

“He deserved it,” McGraw said of Jones.

“The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.”

McGraw showed little remorse for the attack.

“You bet I liked it. Knocking the hell out of that big mouth,” McGraw continued. “No. 1, we don’t know if he’s ISIS. We don’t know who he is, but we know he’s not acting like an American.”

McCraw was originally charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office later charged him with communicating threats after investigators learned of the statements he made on video.

The 79-year-old made a court appearance in March, but the case was continued until July.

Sentencing in the case was Wednesday in a Cumberland County courtroom.

Both McGraw and Jones appeared in front of a judge. McGraw told the judge his actions were not racially motivated.

McGraw apologized and said that he and Jones were both caught up in a “political mess.”

Jones accepted his apology and the two then hugged in the courtroom and agreed to work together to heal the country.

“It just felt good being able to shake his hand…and face him,” Jones said.

The judge ordered one year of unsupervised probation for McGraw. He said he was pleased that both men found a way to peacefully resolve the issue.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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