(Update: Timothy Adams has announced that he is seeking for the assault charges brought against the student who tackled him to be dropped. Adams said that when he learned of the student’s medical condition, and the lack of political intent behind the tackle, he changed his mind. The follow-up story can be found here.)
As protests popped up across the country after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election last week, Columbus has not been immune. The past week has seen multiple protests, both on and off campus. Locally, protests have not been violent — until Monday evening.
During a protest that ended up concluding in the Ohio Union, an anti-Trump protester was tackled while he was delivering a speech. The protester, who appears in court documents as Timothy Adams, was knocked down from where he was standing on the steps leading to the second floor.
Multiple emails have been sent from university administrators to students and faculty regarding the disturbances surrounding the election.
“We protect First Amendment rights actively, but we do not under any circumstances tolerate intimidation or threats to students, faculty, staff or visitors to our campus,” said University President Michael Drake in one such email sent on Saturday evening.
The student who tackled Adams, Shane Michael Stanton, was arrested and placed under indefinite suspension from Ohio State, said Gerard Basalla, Undergraduate Student Government president and a fourth-year in political science and strategic communication.
“The assault that occurred — that’s what it was — in the Union tonight is completely unacceptable,” Basalla told The Lantern. “Every person on this campus has the right to feel safe and voice their opinion without fearing harm. We can’t be having this.”
Basalla said USG would be drafting a more detailed statement as more information became available.
The protest began at the front of Thompson Library on Monday evening around 5 p.m. For the third time this week, the statue of William Oxley Thompson bore witness to an anti-Trump protest as the Columbus branch of the Socialist Alternative led a rally of hundreds against the election results.
The rally began relatively small, with twenty or so people in attendance, but quickly grew as individuals filtered in. One masked protester described his hours-long bus ride from Phoenix, to attend the rally. Protesters ranged from young to old with several children and elderly residents of Columbus in attendance.
The crowd was equipped with handmade signs with sayings including, “This pussy grabs back,” “Your walls divide our world” and “Dump Trump”.
Multiple speakers took the platform ranging from the president of Pride OSU to a Columbus area teacher to a member of the Socialist Alternative.
Brendan Walsh, president of Pride OSU, expressed his anxiety regarding the LGBT community and the election’s results.
“I have never been so fucking scared to leave my room,” Walsh said to the crowd. “I am a white, gay male, like, I am the top of the LGBT community and I acknowledge my privilege. I’m scared and if I’m scared, what has this election done to this community?”
The protest was occasionally interrupted by Trump supporters, but the intrusions were limited with the most notable being a student in a hat emblazoned with Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” videotaping the rally and yelling, “headed behind enemy lines.”
“The biggest problem that we face is people not giving Trump a chance,” said Jake Liddic, a Trump supporter and second-year in business management. “People are dehumanizing a person because his values misalign with their own but they’re also missing him address minorities in a presidential manner.”
After about 30 minutes, the protesters called for a march, proceeding to walk down the Oval and onto High Street, chanting “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” Protesters continued on to the Ohio Union, coming to a halt at the stairs leading to the second floor where they resumed speaking.
Adams, the protester who was tackled, was one of the leaders of the rally. His bullhorn and glasses were shattered upon impact with the tile floor of the Union. People surrounding the stairs immediately reacted in an outbreak of violence that was quickly broken up by police officers at the scene.
Adams stood up after the mob had dispersed and said to the crowd, “Can I finish my speech now?” which was met by laughter and cheers.
Adams attempted to put a positive spin on the night’s events, urging individuals to get involved and come together for a cause.
“I think, if anything, tonight shows that we really need to bring people into social movements, bring people into social organizations and to come out for each other and stand up for each other,” Adams said. “Ultimately, coming together is the only thing that’s going to stop any kind of violence.”
Nick Davis, a third-year in natural resource management and president of Students for Trump, said that the attacker is not affiliated with the organization and that Students for Trump does not condone his actions, but declined to comment further.
“We are especially outraged that violence was used today at the Ohio Union as an attempt to quell free speech,” OSU’s chapter of College Democrats said in a statement published on Facebook. “Acts of violence such as this cannot be allowed to become normalized at OSU or anywhere in America.”
Ohio State reiterated its commitment to free speech while maintaining a safe environment for students in a statement to The Lantern.
“We witnessed a disturbing incident at a political demonstration on our campus this afternoon,” said Chris Davey, university spokesman, in the statement. “As we said last week, the safety of our students and freedom of speech are bedrock, immutable principles that are the foundation of our university.”
This story will be updated as more details become available.
Update, 10:03 p.m.: Timothy Adams name was originally reported as Timothy Joseph, the name he gave The Lantern when contacted by a reporter. His name has been updated to reflect how it appears in court documents.
Correction 11/14: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote about the Democratic Party to Brendan Walsh, president of Pride OSU. This has been corrected.