WASHINGTON — A Donald Trump supporter who punched a protester in the face at a rally earlier this year apologized and shook hands with the victim during a court hearing earlier this week.
James Franklin McGraw was charged in March after online videos showed him sucker-punching Rakeem Jones in the face at an event in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He later said, “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
McGraw and Jones appeared to put their differences aside when they came face to face in court.
“You know what you did, and I know what I did. I’m not going to say you were wrong or I’m wrong,” McGraw told Jones, according to CNN affiliate WRAL. “I hate it worse than anything in the world. If I met you in the street and the same thing occurred, I would have said, ‘Go on home. One of us will get hurt.’ That’s what I would have said. But we are caught up in a political mess today, and you and me, we got to heal our country.”
“I just felt good being able to shake his hand and being able to, you know, being able to actually face him,” Jones said.
According to WRAL, McGraw pleaded no contest to assault and disorderly conduct charges, and has been given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and a year on unsupervised probation.
At the time of the incident, Cumberland County authorities considered charging Trump with inciting a riot, but did not end up taking action.
Trump said he personally wanted to punch a protester “in the face” during a rally in February.
When he was asked if his language had contributed to the violence at his rallies, Trump said in March, “I hope not. I truly hope not.”