An Indian-origin US college student who was ejected from a Donald Trump rally has said he’s gone from avid backer to disillusioned opponent because he feels he was racially profiled.
Jake Anantha, an 18-year-old student of Central Piedmont Community College, was removed from the rally on Thursday after Trump’s security staff accused him of being a known protester, The Charlotte Observer reported.
He is registered as a Republican and planned to cast his first vote for Trump. CNN reported he was wearing a pro-Trump shirt with another pro-Trump shirt underneath.
Anantha and his father, Ramesh Anantha, who works in financial services, said they believed he was profiled because of his dark skin. “I do think it’s because I’m brown,” Anantha was quoted as saying.
He was approached by a member of Trump’s security team and then ushered out by police from the Charlotte Convention Center before the rally began. Anantha was told he resembled another man who has previously disrupted Trump’s rallies.
“It’s unbelievably ironic,” said Ramesh Anantha, whose parents immigrated from India. He said his son, as a young person of color appearing at a rally where Trump spoke about his support for people of color, “should have been looked at as a perfect Trump supporter”.
Anantha added, “I’m a huge Trump supporter. I would never protest against Trump.”
Explaining his political beliefs, Anantha said described himself as a conservative and expressed views similar to those of Trump, including opposition to Black Lives Matter protesters and his belief that “radical Islam is a large threat” to the US.
Anantha tweeted later that he would vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in the presidential elections in November.
“I couldn’t believe what was going on,” he was quoted as saying by CNN. “Obviously now I’m very angry. I’ve wasted a bunch of time coming here. I may have wasted six months of my life supporting Donald Trump, who doesn’t even let me come to his rallies.”
Kirk Bell, communications director for Trump’s North Carolina campaign, said the security team “identified those individuals asked to leave as individuals who have been removed from previous events”.
In Anantha’s case, the identification was made by Trump’s security director, former FBI agent Eddie Deck, Bell said.
Trump’s rallies have been marked by confrontations between protesters who disrupt speeches and the candidate’s supporters and security staff. Rose Hamid, a Charlotte Muslim who has appeared at several rallies to peacefully protest Trump’s depiction of Muslims, was also ejected from Thursday’s event.
Trump has struggled to gain support among minority voters. Only 2% of African-American voters and 26% of Latino voters say they back him, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll.
In his speech in Charlotte, Trump spoke of his desire to connect with people of color. He talked about working with African-Americans to improve public education and fight poverty.