A Trump supporter from Minnesota has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge stemming from a physical assault on a journalist last year. That Trump supporter, 71-year-old Duane Waldriff, pleaded guilty to a single count of disorderly conduct and has been sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation, which — although it’s unsupervised — still entails conduct requirements.
The original incident unfolded before a rally that then-President Trump held in Duluth, Minnesota in September of last year, at which time Waldriff swung at photojournalist Dymanh Chhoun, knocking a phone that Chhoun was holding onto the ground. At the time, Chhoun worked with the Minneapolis station WCCO-TV. Waldriff appears to have been targeting anti-Trump demonstrators who had gathered at the site, although Chhoun was on the scene — and recording — in his role as a journalist and “had identified himself as a member of the media,” the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes. Waldriff ranted as follows just before lunging at Chhoun:
‘You guys want to be peaceful? Be peaceful! You want to be violent? Come to me and I’ll…’
Waldriff faced a potential 60-day jail sentence, but Minnesota Judge Theresa Neo held off on implementing that punishment, the Pioneer Press notes. Waldriff is definitely not the only Trump supporter facing legal trouble these days — hundreds of the former president’s backers have been dealt federal criminal charges in connection to their participation in the January riot at the Capitol, where the then-president’s supporters tried to forcibly stop the Congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Trump supporters assaulted scores of police officers who were on the scene that day and trying to defend the Capitol complex from their onslaught. Violence seems like a running theme among Trump’s most fervent supporters.
Besides the former president’s incitement of the Capitol violence, Trump’s rhetoric also connects to the violence that Waldriff perpetrated. The former president has repeatedly encouraged aggressive confrontations with political opponents. In fact, encouragement of violence was one of the initial defining features of the Trump campaign — in early 2016, for instance, then-candidate Trump told his supporters at a rally the campaign was holding to “knock the crap out of” anti-Trump demonstrators.