Man Charged with Harassment Over Removal of Trump Protesters

May 1, 2017

Donald Trump, then the Republican nominee for President, speaking to a crowd in Louisville in 2016.
Credit Jacob Ryan

Police in Kentucky have served a criminal summons to a white nationalist group leader accused of harassing protesters at a Donald Trump campaign rally in Louisville last year, according to a city official.

Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn said Monday that a city police officer served the summons to Matthew Heimbach on Saturday after he marched with white nationalist groups in the eastern Kentucky city. The summons accuses Heimbach of harassment without injury and orders him to appear in Jefferson District Court.

The summons says Heimbach got too close to Kashiya Nwanguma, who is African-American, and screamed, yelled and pushed her multiple times to get her out of the building where the rally took place.

Heimbach told The Associated Press he believes the case is the product of a "huge social media campaign" by "anti-fascists" and "far-left activists."

"This is a completely politically motivated charge," he said. "I believe 110 percent that I followed all laws. I acted reasonably."

Heimbach also faces a lawsuit over the allegations. Three people filed a lawsuit last year against Trump, his campaign, Heimbach and another man. They say they were shoved and punched by audience members at Trump's command. Video widely broadcast during the campaign showed Trump pointing at protesters and repeating the words "get them out."

Heimbach has countersued the president, saying he was acting on Trump's words.

The charge against Heimbach was filed exactly a year before he was served, said Josh Abner, spokesman for the county attorney's office in Jefferson County. Realizing Heimbach might be in Pikeville for the rally, Louisville police alerted local law enforcement, and that's how he was served, Abner said.

"He's out of state, and since this was a misdemeanor, it wasn't a situation where this could be served without him being back in the state," Abner said Monday.

Heimbach is chairman of the Traditionalist Worker Party. On its website, the group described its members as "unapologetically nationalists, fighting to secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

Heimbach said he doesn't have a criminal record or even a traffic ticket in his past, and looks forward to "putting this whole thing to bed."

He provided the AP with a photo of the complaint, which says the alleged victim — "due to a video" — thought she may have been stuck by a needle. No marks were found, but the woman was taking "preventative medicine," the complaint says.

"One of the main things I'm accused of literally didn't happen," he said of the needle allegation.