One of the early violent moments in the tense 2016 presidential campaign came to a close this week with a handshake and a hug.
John Franklin McGraw, who punched a protester at a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville, N.C. in March, apologized for his actions when he faced Rakeem Jones, the man he hit, in court on Wednesday, the Washington Post reports. After McGraw was sentenced, the two men shook hands and hugged, prompting the courtroom to break into applause.
The 79-year-old pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of assault and battery and disorderly conduct, for which a judge gave him a 30-day suspended sentence and 12 months of unsupervised probation, according to the Associated Press. He will also have to pay a $250 fine and $180 in court costs, the AP reported.
The case became a flashpoint for racial tensions during the presidential campaign this year after video of McGraw, who is white, threatening and hitting Jones, who is black, went viral. McGraw’s attorney said his client was not motivated by race, according to the Washington Post.
Jones, too, said he hadn’t focused on the fact that McGraw is white and he is black.
“As far as race, not one time throughout this whole six months have I mentioned his race. I got hit by a man, period,” Jones said, according to the Post. “As far as race, I don’t know. It’s not my concern. I got hit by a man.”
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