During the heated 2016 election battle between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican President-elect Donald J. Trump, the partisan rhetoric often crossed the line into physical altercations.
79-year-old John McGraw attended a Trump rally and became so enraged by a Trump protester, he took matters into his own hands. McGraw was captured on video sucker-punching protester Rakeem Jones as he was being escorted out of the rally arena in Fayetteville, North Carolina this past March.
Earlier this week McGraw met the man he punched in court during his sentencing hearing, but this time things went quite a bit differently. Jones and McGraw put aside political differences and hugged it out after McGraw apologized and said: “We are caught up in a political mess today, and you and me, we’ve got to heal our country.”
— Michael Perry (@perryjaialai) December 15, 2016
At first McGraw put out his hand for a shake. But instead, the young man pulled him in for a hug.
In response to the wonderful act of unity, the Cumberland County Courtroom erupted in applause.
New York Daily News reporter Shaun King released video footage of the elderly Trump supporter punching Jones with an elbow in early March. Saying in a social media post, “Help me identify the racist Trump supporter who repeatedly punched this protester in the face last night.”
Help me identify the racist Trump supporter who repeatedly punched this protestor in the face last night.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) March 10, 2016
In a CNN video shared earlier this week via social media, Jones recalled the Trump Rally. Saying, “As I am walking, soon as I turned, he hit me. I thought it was a punch but as I look at the footage now, it was an elbow but he hit me dead in my eye.”
The blow to the face came as Jones was being escorted out of the rally by Cumberland County Sheriff’s office deputies.
— CNN International (@cnni) December 15, 2016
After the incident “Inside Edition” posted a video of a conversation between a reporter and McGraw.
First the senior citizen stated, “you bet I liked it” when referring to hitting the young man. Then saying in response to the reporter’s question, “What did you like about it?”
“Knocking the hell out of that big mouth” adding in, “yes he deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
Originally the elderly man was charged with assault and battery as well as disorderly conduct, reported a local North Carolina news station WNCN.
McGraw was later charged with communicating threats after the video was released by “Inside Edition.”
McGraw received one year of unsupervised probation as his sentence for the act.