Ender Austin III with police while being removed from Donald Trump’s rally in Las Vegas, Nev. (Photo: Hunter Walker/Yahoo News)
LAS VEGAS — Multiple protesters affiliated with a local group that supports the #BlackLivesMatter movement were forcibly removed from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign rally at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino on Monday evening.
Afterward, protesters told Yahoo News they are also planning more demonstrations for the Republican debate that will be held at the Venetian casino on Tuesday. One protester ejected from the rally, Ender Austin III, said Trump supporters shouted “Hail Trump!” as he was carried out. In video of the incident, a man can be heard yelling for Austin to be set “on fire.”
The commotion began shortly after Trump, who is currently a frontrunner in the GOP primary, took the stage. Trump invited a supporter named Jamiel Shaw to join him. Shaw’s son was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant gang member in 2008.
“I always ask people, what would you do? What would you do if an illegal alien in an 18th Street gang was released from the county jail you know and into our neighborhoods?” Shaw asked the crowd. “We don’t know what’s going on. That’s why we need Donald Trump.”
As Shaw spoke, Austin began shouting.
“That’s why we need gun control!” Austin yelled. “If there were no guns he wouldn’t have got killed.”
Protesters subsequently showed Yahoo News a video of the interruption. Austin was quickly grabbed by casino security.
“Get your hands off me!” Austin yelled. “Don’t touch me!”
Austin later told Yahoo he is a Pentecostal minister who was attending the event with a group called “Unity Vegas.” He said both he and the group support the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Austin said he had planned on staying at the rally, but felt he needed to interject when he did because he believed Trump was unfairly using the death of Shaw’s son to justify anti-immigrant policies.
“The majority of issues with gun violence are not with undocumented persons,” Austin said. “And to parade that as though this is the reason why we should deport millions of people and destroy millions of lives was disturbing to me.”
Austin added that his “heart is with” Shaw’s family for the “loss that they’ve endured.”
Though he briefly sat on the ground, Austin was eventually carried out of the event. Buzzfeed reporter McKay Coppins filmed some of Austin’s removal. In his footage, a man Coppins identified as a Trump supporter can be heard shouting “Light the motherf***er on fire!” at Austin.
Austin said he felt the remark about setting him on fire had “serious historical context” because he is a “person of African descent.” He also claimed other Trump supporters made inappropriate comments as he was being removed.
“I heard ‘Hail Trump!’ several times as though it were a Nazi youth or Hitler Youth group meeting or something of that nature,” Austin said. “I heard a lot of rhetoric that definitely put me in the mind of Nazi Germany, not 2015 America.”
Spokespeople for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
Once outside, Austin said he was handcuffed and detained by police officers. Yahoo witnessed Austin being grabbed and pushed against a wall by police, but we were pushed from the area by Westgate security.
Watch a video of Austin being grabbed by the police.
Austin said he was eventually released. He claimed a sergeant who spoke to him “insinuated” he would be arrested if he wanted to file a complaint.
“What disturbed me mainly was that they met someone who was definitely loud and hopefully disruptive, that was absolutely my intent, with a lot of force, physically assaulting me,” Austin said. “No one ever came and said, ‘Hey, you need to be quiet or leave or anything like that. I was met immediately with force.”
Austin said he came to the event with a group of about 10 protesters from Unity Vegas. He was not the only one who was removed from the Trump rally.
Amanda Staten and Jonas Rand were also with the Unity Vegas group. Outside the event, they told Yahoo they were ejected moments after Austin. Staten said she was removed after she kicked a man who took the phone she used to film security ejecting Austin. She provided Yahoo a video that showed a man who grabbed her phone after asking, “Whose side you’re on?” Rand said he was removed from the rally for holding a Unity Vegas sign.
Rand, Staten, and Austin all said their group objected to many of Trump’s policies. Specifically, they cited his stances on Latino and Muslim immigrants. They also took issue with the fact that Trump suggested a #BlackLivesMatter protester who interrupted one of his events last month “should have been roughed up.”
All three protesters told Yahoo there are further demonstrations planned for the Republican debate on Tuesday.
“I came here to show my support for my community and other minorities. … I came here basically to show, like, yes, we’re here, and we see you, and we want you to know this is how we feel,” Staten said. “No matter where you go, there will always be somebody from #BlackLivesMatter at your event. You can have us jumped and cheer the people who are jumping on us. You can have us kicked out, but we’re always going to be there, no matter what.”