A 15-year-old student wearing a President-elect Donald Trump campaign hat was assaulted during a high school protest in Rockville, Maryland. The student suffered minor injuries while one of the suspects has been arrested for assault.
On Nov. 16, students at Richard Montgomery High School left their classrooms to march toward the Rockville courthouse, protesting the election of Trump, WTOP reports.
The students, the majority of them too young to have voted in the election, held signs and chanted: “Love trumps hate.”
With passions inflamed, four students singled out a 15-year-old who was wearing the Trump campaign’s signature “Make America Great Again” hat.
The four suspects allegedly encircled the Trump supporter and forced him onto the ground, where he was kicked several times. Police have determined that the 15-year-old did not incite the altercation.
Max Stucky, who witnessed the incident, described the scene as an ambush.
“They jumped him and beat him up pretty bad,” Stucky said.
The teenager suffered minor injuries and was treated at a nearby hospital. One 17-year-old suspected of participating in the attack has been arrested and charged with second-degree assault but is not currently in custody.
The altercation in Rockville occurred amid a swell of protests in greater Montgomery County, Maryland. It appears that the assault was an isolated incident. In another protest at nearby Northwest High School, 10th grader Anyah Clayton stressed that she and her classmates were not trying to promote more hate.
“We’re trying to get people together instead of saying more negative things that add on more conflict,” Clayton said.
Meanwhile, 12th grader Taylor Clayton told reporters that self-identified Trump supporters had been harassing other classmates and using racist language.
On Nov. 17, Montgomery County superintendent Jack Smith issued a video statement to all students ordering them to cease protests during classroom hours. Smith explained that while the students’ right to protest was valid, the instance of violence in Rockville had caused concerns for safety, The Washington Post reports.
“Our goal is to keep our students safe, under adult supervision, and engaged in the learning process,” Smith said. “It is for this reason that I am asking and expecting all students to remain in school and participate in the daily educational program as intended.”
Following the election Nov. 8, protests have erupted across the country against Trump. The demonstrations have been largely peaceful, but there have been reports of violence.
On Nov. 17, President Barack Obama was asked about the swell of protests in the U.S. during his diplomatic conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He noted that the right to protest is a core tenet of the Constitutional right to free speech.
“I’ve been the subject of protests during the course of my eight years,” Obama said, according to Politico. “And I suspect that there’s not a president in our history that hasn’t been subject to these protests … I wouldn’t advise them to be silent.”