I don’t have any personal interest one way or the other in the whole so-called “head stomping” incident with the Rand Paul supporter. And it seems obvious that there are overly-zealous political supporters of all stripes who can commit acts of violence, especially spontaneous violence when they are in a large group. One can, and many have, recited instances on both sides of the political spectrum. And none of it should be tolerated and none of it is acceptable or defensible. Nor do I think it makes the slightest bit of difference to most people in deciding how to vote that there are some loonies out there in the world.
Having said that, this new video of the Rand Paul supporter incident makes the whole context of the incident look much, much different from other things I’ve seen and read. When I watch that video, I have to say that in that context Valle’s actions could have been perceived as really quite threatening by those around the scene. She races to the side of the car and thrusts the sign into the car window very aggressively and in what could be reasonably interpreted as a highly-threatening manner. The members of the crowd then aggressively pull her away from the crowd and wrestle her to the ground. This Profitt fellow then presses down on her shoulder/back with his foot, seemingly telling her (in a highly threatening way) not to move and pushing with his foot to add emphasis. He didn’t “stomp her head” or try to injure her. My impression is that he is trying to tell her not to move, not to injure her. Paul supporters then run to get police to intervene. Profitt stated after the fact that he felt like Paul may have been in danger from her actions.
Imagine that it had been a police officer or a licensed security officer who was standing where Profitt was–would he have behaved differently? Perhaps, but I suspect more in degree than kind. Given the aggressiveness of her approach to the car window I think a security officer might reasonably suspect she was a threat (Profitt says she lunged at the car several times before approaching it). Would he wrestle her to the ground and try to incapacitate her? It certainly seems within the realm of possibility. Footage I’ve seen of police officers and other trained officials acting a similar situation seem quite similar to me in the way they wrestle a threat to the ground and try to incapacitate the person.
All this depends, of course, on the belief that (1) Profitt reasonably thought that Valle was a threat to Paul and (2) that he did not use unreasonable force in trying to keep her restrained until a police officer arrived. On both counts there is room for interpretation. But I have to say that on my viewing, Profitt’s explanation for his actions do not strike me as inherently unreasonable under the circumstances nor that much different from what I would have expected a trained security agent to do under the circumstances.
I don’t think this will have any effect one way or the other on that election. But apparently Profitt has been charged with a crime. He has been charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony. I guess we’ll find out in the end whether he actually committed a crime, but this seems like a case where we should be careful about rushing to judgment.