Adding to the running list of reportedly violent incidents involving Donald Trump supporters and protesters, police on Tuesday said that a 15-year-old girl was pepper sprayed and allegedly sexually assaulted by two men outside of a Trump campaign rally in Janesville, Wisconsin, a city situated around 40 miles southeast of the state's capital. The incident occurred after the girl accused a man in the crowd of groping her and reportedly tried to punch or push him. A video of the incident later showed the girl pushing the man away and then being pepper sprayed by another man in the crowd.
The altercation took place during an anti-Trump protest, where a crowd of approximately 1,000 people had gathered to see the GOP front-runner speak. Police are currently searching for two men, one was subsequently accused of sexually assaulting the 15-year-old girl and another man who pepper sprayed the teenager and another 19-year-old woman, police said in a statement. The identity of the 15-year-old girl has not been released, although Wisconsin State Journal reporter Molly Beck tweeted later that she had been hit with the blast of pepper spray as well. It was not clear whether Beck was the other woman mentioned by police.
So, what happened? Who are the men allegedly involved? Well, like most altercations that have happened at Trump events of late, it seems that the moment was initiated after an argument broke out between a supporter and a protester. In a video that captured the episode, supporters at the rally are seen chanting "Trump! Trump! Trump!" while a blonde teen in a windbreaker holds a sign related to the Black Lives Matter movement, reading "Damn, Donald, back at it again with the white supremacy", a play on the recent "Damn, Daniel" meme. A supporter in the crowd then makes a comment that “All lives matter”, leading to an argument between the girl and an older man.
The girl begins screaming at an older man in the crowd. “You f---ing touched my chest,” she can be heard saying. The man shakes his head and denies the accusation, puts his hands up and saying, “I never touched her.” The two, along with various members of the now-frenzied crowd, continue to argue for roughly 30 seconds, when the girl reportedly pushes the man away (some sources have claimed that she reached out to allegedly "punch" the man, although reports have been varied). At that point, another member of the crowd pepper-sprays the girl in the face.
The Associated Press reported that girl told police she punched the man who groped her and that a different man, identified by The Wisconsin State Journal as Dan Crandall, a Trump supporter, then pepper-sprayed her.
“I didn’t touch her,” Crandall told the newspaper. “She started to challenge why I was the Trump rally… I told her I was at the Trump rally because I was a grown man and I cared about my country.”
Police say the girl could face charges for allegedly punching Crandall and issued a press release asking for the public’s help in identifying the other suspect involved in the assault.
Whether it’s a alleged punch or pepper-spray, you can be sure that Trump supporters and protesters will continue to have strong and conflicting opinions — and that it most likely won't be the last time an incident like this makes headlines.