Former Little Village editor Arish Singh was removed from a Donald Trump rally in Muscatine, Iowa on Sunday after unfurling a “Stop Hate” banner and calling out to the presidential candidate.
The ejection took place about 16 minutes into Trump’s speech at Muscatine High School, shortly after the candidate criticized President Obama for — in his words — failing to “talk about” radical Islam. In a video of the incident uploaded to Youtube, shouting and booing can be heard as event organizers remove Singh and his companion, Muscatine resident Taylor Williams, from the premises. Trump looks up and says, “Buh-bye” as the two are escorted out, after which the crowd bursts into a loud round of applause and chants “USA” for about 15 seconds.
Watch the full rally — Singh is removed at 16:30
Singh, a Chicago resident who grew up in Cedar Falls, Iowa, tweeted about the incident shortly afterward.
— Arish Singh (@arishish) January 24, 2016
When reached by phone, Singh says he decided to interrupt the speech due to a series of remarks by Trump — such as his suggestion that the U.S. ban all Muslim immigrants — which have coincided with a rise in incidents of xenophobia and bigotry against Sikhs and Muslim Americans. Although Trump has not attacked Sikhs directly, Singh pointed to a series of recent hate crimes perpetuated against Muslim Americans over the last several months, and said it’s part of the Sikh tradition to stand up to injustice, regardless of where it might manifest. When he saw that white supremacists had begun robo-calling in Iowa in support of Trump, Singh says that was the “last straw.”
“I did interrupt him,” Singh said. “I did say, ‘why do you give shelter to white supremacists. Why do we have white supremacists robocalling in Iowa?’ I did say that as we dropped the banner.”
Singh likened Trump’s past rhetoric on Islam to dog-whistling.
“I don’t really care about Trump himself or his political party, but this sort of movement that he’s emboldened — this sort of fascistic element that genuinely identifies with fascism, that’s willing to commit hate crimes — that’s something that’s real that needs to be confronted, and you can’t just let that go without comment, and I think that’s kind of how it’s been treated.”
Singh says that shortly after interrupting Trump, he was approached by an event organizer who told him to “get the hell out of here” before shaking his fist and threatening to beat him up.
“I think it might sound scarier than it was,” Singh said, laughing. He says a police officer then approached him and Williams and asked them both to leave before escorting them out of the premises. The former Little Village editor says he’s not sure if Trump’s comments afterward (“He wasn’t wearing one of those hats, was he? … And he never will, and he never will, but that’s okay…”) were in reference to his Turban. Singh says Trump may have glanced up and thought it looked like a pro-Trump hat worn by some of his supporters.
“Whether he was trying to make any kind of slur against me is kind of irrelevant,” Singh said. “It’s clear what his politics are as far as ostracizing and scapegoating people for their background. I think he’s left no real mystery there.”
“I believe we’re banned from the premises for a year,” Singh added.
He says he plans on protesting during Trump’s rally in Iowa City on Tuesday.