The activist who was reportedly beaten and choked after protesting at a Donald Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday is now speaking out about the incident.
Upon arriving at the rally with several other activists, Southhall says attendees kept a distance of “six feet space on either side of us.”
“The message was: this was not our town. This was not our place,” Southall told ThinkProgress.
The incident, which was partially captured on video, occurred after Southhall was narrating his protest at the rally to another activist who was recording. Speaking to the camera, Southall indicated that he wanted to show Trump that he was “not welcome here.”
When someone knocked the recording phone out of the protester’s hand, Southall and two others began chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Rally attendees then started shouting back, according to Southall.
“[Then] they said, ‘Go home, n—–, and somebody punched me,” Southall told AL.com. “I punched back.” Soon enough, people were piling on top of him, punching and kicking. After he freed himself from some of the struggle, he says, “Somebody got behind me and started trying to choke me out.”
“They called me n—–, monkey, and they shouted ‘all lives matter’ while they were kicking and punching me.”
Shortly after, rally attendees tackled Southall to the ground. At least one person was seen punching him and another kicking him while he was down, according to CNN.
Trump commented on the incident on stage, saying, “Get him the hell out of here, will you please?” according to The Washington Post. Southall and two other protesters were then removed from the event.
Trump drew controversy when he remarked on the incident again in an interview on “Fox & Friends.” “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” Trump said.
Southall, who estimates he has been tased about 30 times and has been arrested more than once in the course of his activism, is well known in Alabama protest circles. The activist rhetorically asked AL.com, “Is it me? Every time I go somewhere, they’re trying to beat me or tase me or kill me.”
“He was so obnoxious and so loud. He was screaming. I had 10,000 people in the room yesterday — 10,000 people. And this guy started screaming by himself,” said Trump.
While Trump’s campaign told CNN that they do not condone the violent reaction to Southall’s protest, Trump referred to Southall as “looking to make trouble,” a sentiment seemingly mirrored by Birmingham Police Lieutenant Sean Edwards.
“I would be a little cautious with Mercutio Southall. He has been an agitator from day one. Mercutio is always the agitator,” Edwards has reportedly said. “The majority of the department knows who he is, and he knows how to reach us.”
In the past, Southall told AL.com that he does not try to get arrested, but added, “What can black people do without getting persecuted or killed?”
The attendees seen attacking Southall in the video will not face charges, nor will Southall or the other two protesters.
As for why Southall chose to protest the event, Southall cited Alabama’s history in the battle for civil rights.
“This is a city where some of the biggest battles of the civil rights movement happened, where four little girls got bombed up, so we aren’t accepting of anything like that kind of talk down here.”
Southall also said that “The things that [Trump has] been saying about black people, Latino people, immigrants, refugees — we felt it was very disrespectful.”
Southall did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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