He told the crowd, “You can get ’em out, but don’t hurt ’em.”
They only heeded half of his words.
Video footage captured at the event shows Ariel Rojas, one of eight student protesters from Florida International University, being dragged to the ground by the collar and kicked while chants of “USA! USA!” can be heard in the background. The assault is mostly performed by a bald man wearing a red polo shirt who triumphantly fists pumps the air as he returns to a cheering crowd.
Rojas and his fellow protesters had been holding signs that spelled “E-Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y,” which were vigorously grabbed and torn up by Trump supporters.
In an interview with Latino Rebels on Tuesday, the college senior spoke lightheartedly about the incident. He explained that he is a part of the Miami-based organization Students Working for Equal Rights, which has held protests at Trump events before.
“We usually get escorted out,” Rojas said. “This time around we were forced out.”
He said he and several other protesters were put into headlocks, and one girl was kicked in the knee. “We made it a point not to resist and not hit back,” Rojas said. “You know, to keep things peaceful and as nonviolent as possible.”
The scene was like “being in a mosh pit,” he said, laughing as he credited Trump with having an “actually pretty good” playlist.
“There were some choice moments of irony,” Rojas told NBC Miami. His friend reportedly witnessed one person in the crowd hitting a protester with a sign that read “The Silent Majority Supports Trump.”
The Trump campaign told NBC that the man who dragged Rojas was neither a Trump campaign staffer nor an employee of the Trump National Miami Doral Resort, where the rally was held. Rather, he was “merely an attendee.”
The Miami event was the same one from which a Univision news crew was barred. A correspondent from the Spanish-language network explained in an interview with The Washington Post that a police officer had simply told them, “He [Trump] said you’re not allowed to be here.”