By Addie Hampton
A Clemson professor dressed in a traditional Muslim garment says he was kicked out of Donald Trump’s rally Wednesday night in Pendleton. He caught it all on tape, posting this video to social media and it was watched more than 150,000 times in 24 hours.
Dr. Chenjeria Kumanyika was wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf called a “keffiyeh” at the rally. He doesn’t practice that religion, but wanted to stand in solidarity with groups that he feels have been marginalized by the Trump campaign.
He believes this prejudice was showcased last night when he was walked out of the Trump event, sparking the viral nature of his video. Kumanyika called his moves a “test” of our rights to practice the democratic process. His getting kicked out means the test failed.
“I think this sends a message in some way that if you are going to participate in this democratic process, be small. Be inconspicuous. Don’t stand up. Sit down. If you’re told to leave, don’t ask why,” said Dr. Kumanyika.
Kumanyika said he didn’t act small at the rally. He stood up, he sat down and he walked around the arena, as he said others were doing. According to Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies, his behavior caught the Trump campaign’s attention.
“What did I do that was different than anybody else,” asked Kumanyika in his video.
“The Trump Campaign…the Trump people said that you were no longer welcome,” a deputy explained.
7News reached out to the Trump campaign, Thursday. They said they were looking into the matter.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office said they did escort him out on behalf of the campaign, but not based on his appearance. They said Kumanyika was “continually blocking” the view of other people.
“I wondered and I still wonder what I did that was different than what anyone else has done,” said Kumanyika, Thursday.
While he didn’t expect the viral attention of the video, he believes it speaks to fear spread by the Trump campaign, though he added that he doesn’t believe all Trump supporters are bigoted.
“There’s a real atmosphere of fear and that’s an atmosphere where somebody is benefitting from that. We don’t need to target the people that are made scared, but we need to look at those who are benefitting from this fear,” he said.
Kumanyika hopes this will spark a necessary conversation about the democratic process and equality for all.