On Friday, U.S. District Judge for the West District of Kentucky David J. Hale ruled that Donald Trump may have incited violence against three protesters during a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville when he urged the crowd to “get ‘em out of here,” the Courier-Journal reports.
Henry Brousseau, Kashiya Nwanguma and Molly Shah are seeking unspecified damages for allegedly sustaining injuries from a few rally-goers whom Trump riled up. The lawsuit names three defendant other than Trump, including Matthew Heimbach, a leader in the white supremacist group Traditionalist Youth Network.
In his opinion, Judge Hale rejected Trump’s attorneys’ case that the complaint should be thrown out on free speech grounds, noting that there was sufficient evidence showing that the protesters’ injuries were a “direct and proximate result,” of Trump’s speech. Hale writes, “It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ‘em out of here’ advocated the use of force. It was an order, an instruction, a command.”
Hale also chose not to dismiss allegations that Nwangma, a black woman, suffered verbal abuse in the form of racial and sexist slurs. “While the words themselves are repulsive,” writes Hale, “they are relevant to show the atmosphere in which the alleged events occurred.”
Hale dismissed the protesters’ claim that Trump was vicariously liable for the audience members’ actions on the grounds that they were not employed by Trump or his campaign, the Courier-Journal reports.
The case was referred to Federal Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl, who will arrange further litigation and any potential settlements.
Last March, then-candidate Trump responded to concerns that he was encouraging physical and verbal aggression at his rallys (the events in Louisville, for instance, had occurred a week earlier) by saying that he did, “not condone that at all.” Trump also warned that protesters were the primary danger at his rallies. “We have some protesters who are bad dudes,” Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “They have done bad things, and they are really dangerous.”