The man who was punched in the face by a Donald Trump supporter at one of the President-elect’s rallies earlier this year got an apology from his attacker, and even gave him a hug when they met during a court hearing Wednesday.
“It was genuine,” Rakeem Jones said of James Franklin McGraw’s apology. “Even if it wasn’t what people expected him to say or felt like he should have said, it was him all the way around.”
Jones, speaking to CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” Friday, said he went to the Fayetteville, North Carolina, rally as neither a protester nor supporter, but a spectator.
McGraw was charged in March after online videos showed him sucker-punching Jones in the face. He later said, “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
McGraw and Jones appeared to put their differences aside when they came face to face in court. Jones said that the two men talked online before meeting, and came to an understanding.
“He basically wanted to let me know that it wasn’t a racial thing that he didn’t threaten me,” Jones said. “It wasn’t scripted.”
When Camerota asked why he hugged the guy, he said “It was more-so a natural reaction.”
“You know what you did, and I know what I did. I’m not going to say you were wrong or I’m wrong,” McGraw told Jones, according to CNN affiliate WRAL. “I hate it worse than anything in the world. If I met you in the street and the same thing occurred, I would have said, ‘Go on home. One of us will get hurt.’ That’s what I would have said. But we are caught up in a political mess today, and you and me, we got to heal our country.”
According to WRAL, McGraw pleaded no contest to assault and disorderly conduct charges, and has been given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and a year on unsupervised probation.
At the time of the incident, Cumberland County authorities considered charging Trump with inciting a riot, but did not end up taking action.
Trump said he personally wanted to punch a protester “in the face” during a rally in February.
When he was asked if his language had contributed to the violence at his rallies, Trump said in March, “I hope not. I truly hope not.”