Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson gives his endorsement to Donald Trump during a press conference on March 11, 2016 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Joe Raedle—2016 Getty Images
March 14, 2016 8:25 AM EDT

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Monday there is a “real possibility” that violence will escalate at Donald Trump rallies.

The retired neurosurgeon, who has endorsed Trump after dropping out of the race himself, weighed in on heightened tensions plaguing Trump’s campaign rallies and events during an appearance on NBC’s Today show.

“I think, certainly, if the protesters continue with their Alinksy-ite tactics, there is a real possibility of escalation, because those who are the victims of them have two choices: They can submit to them and meekly just do whatever those protesters want them to do, or they can fight back,” Carson said. “And if they decide to fight back, there could be an escalation.”

Carson’s comments come after a Trump supporter was charged with assault after he allegedly sucker-punched a protester in the face during a rally in North Carolina last week. The billionaire businessman also had to cancel a rally in Chicago over the weekend after fights broke out between his supporters and protesters.

“The problem is that there are those who are being taught that if someone disagrees with you, you have the right to interfere with their First Amendment rights, their ability to express themselves, their freedom of speech,” Carson said Monday. “That’s where the emphasis needs to be.”

“I think that this is a wonderful opportunity for Mr. Trump, for Bernie Sanders, for [Hillary] Clinton, for the other Republicans, to really stand up and to start talking to people about what First Amendment rights are, why they are so important as a part of the foundation of our country,” he added.

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