By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The Seattle City Attorney’s Office hasn’t decided yet if it will file charges in an incident on Oct. 17 where a man was injured following a Trump rally.
Jesse Robbins, 39, said he was exercising his First Amendment right to peacefully counterprotest a Trump rally in the south Seattle neighborhood where he grew up.
“When I found out that this Trump supporting community was surreptitiously setting up shop in this neighborhood, unopposed, it infuriated me.”
At the end of the day, Robbins ended up in urgent care with a bloody head and three stitches.
Robbins learned about the pro-Trump rally on Oct. 17, organized by a local Vietnamese group. He said this group doesn’t like to publicize their events so as to avoid counter protesters.
On Oct. 17, Robbins—who speaks Vietnamese and has been involved with the Vietnamese community for a number of years—showed up with a sign at King Plaza on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South.
It said, in Vietnamese, “You pay more for Vietnamese sandwiches than Trump pays in taxes” and “China owns Trump. Trump is a traitor. You are a traitor,” on the other side.
Do Nguyen, 52, told the Northwest Asian Weekly he saw Robbins and the sign he was holding, and that he was “happy and glad” that someone was exercising their free speech rights.
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Robbins told the Northwest Asian Weekly that “one guy shoulder checked me”—and Robbins said that it happened twice and that this person got in his personal space.
Nguyen told the Northwest Asian Weekly that Robbins “bumped me, but I don’t think that he intentionally bumped me,” and Nguyen told Robbins, “Hey, don’t touch me bro.”
Nguyen said other protesters tried to cover Robbins’ sign with their flags and Robbins appeared to get annoyed.
“So he walked back to this original spot,” said Nguyen. “And he bumped me again. I don’t know if he intentionally bumped me or what, but I yelled, ‘Hey, don’t touch me bro!’”
The police report states “a verbal confrontation with members of the crowd escalated to a physical confrontation that left [Robbins] with a cut on the top of his head. After the initial physical confrontation, he attempted to walk away, but a member with the crowd chased him while holding a flag.”
Building security camera footage confirms that Robbins tried to get away repeatedly, and was chased down and beaten. Nguyen said Robbins attacked him first.
Robbins denies that. Robbins said he stood 20 feet across from the rally, held up his sign, and braced for boos and jeers.
“I didn’t want them to think they could have these events unopposed, unanswered,” said Robbins. “Even if it was just me.”
It was just him counter protesting, a calculated risk, Robbins admits. He is 5’10” and has had eight years of self defense training in krav maga.
“It saved my butt.”
“I want these people to be held accountable,” Robbins told the Northwest Asian Weekly. He said it has been a mental drain to relive the moments where he was choked from behind, stomped on, and kicked.
He also said what’s missing in the police report is that the crowd approached him, not the other way around.
Nguyen maintains that Robbins instigated the fight but states, “There shouldn’t be any violence among us.”
Nguyen told the Northwest Asian Weekly that he has tried to reach out to Robbins via Facebook and mutual friends to “say sorry—things like this shouldn’t escalate to what happened,” and to “find peace and understanding, and clear the air.”
Robbins said he has declined to meet with Nguyen “since he was a part of the group that intimidated, harassed, and then ultimately assaulted me, and because I want to be as hands-off with this case as much as possible, instead opting to let the police and city attorney do their work first.”
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.