Anti-Trump protestor says racism, not Islam, motivated confrontation

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally on March 13, 2016 in Boca Raton, Florida.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally on March 13, 2016 in Boca Raton, Florida.PHOTO: AFP

Washington (AFP) - The protester who disrupted a Donald Trump rally in Ohio over the weekend wanted to send a message against racism and "violent, white supremacist ideas," he said in an interview airing on Monday (Mar 14).

Thomas DiMassimo caused a stir on Saturday when he tried to rush the stage in Dayton, where the Republican presidential frontrunner was wrapping up a campaign speech.

"I was thinking that Donald Trump is a bully, and he is nothing more than that," the 22-year old college student told CNN.

"He is somebody who is just saying a lot of bold things, he's making bold claims. But I can see right through that and I can see that he's truly just a coward. And he's opportunistic and he's willing to destroy this country for power for himself," DiMassimo said.

DiMassimo was prevented from reaching Trump by the billionaire businessman's security detail and US Secret Service officers who quickly surrounded him, shielding him with their bodies.

DiMassimo, a senior at Wright State University, has been charged with disorderly conduct and inducing panic.

Trump posted a link to what appeared to a video with what appeared to be a doctored picture of DiMassimo with a gun and an ISIS flag. In the video, Arabic music is laid over images taken from an anti-racism march at Wright State University in which Massimo is seen dragging an American flag on the ground.

"USSS (United States Secret Service) did an excellent job stopping the maniac running to the stage. He has ties to ISIS. Should be in jail!" Trump tweeted.

But DiMassimo said his motives had absolutely nothing to do with radical Islam.

"I was thinking that I could get up on stage and take his podium away from him ... and send a message to all people out in the country who wouldn't consider themselves racist, who wouldn't consider themselves approving of what type of violence Donald Trump is allowing in his rallies," DiMassimo said.

His aim was to "send them a message that we can be strong - that we can find our strength and we can stand up against Donald Trump and against this new wave he's ushering in of truly just violent white supremacist ideas," DiMassimo told CNN.