RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Friday night's Donald Trump political rally in Chicago was canceled, but not before ugly scenes played out between Trump supporters and people who had come to protest the event. Jedidiah Brown was there, and if you watched any of the events on TV, you'd recognize him as the young man who was pulled from the event stage. He's part of an organization called Young Leader Alliance. He joins us now on the line from Chicago. Jedidiah, thanks for being with us.
JEDIDIAH BROWN: So glad to be on.
MARTIN: So what happened? Can you describe the scene? What was going on when you first got there?
BROWN: I felt at - having gotten into the middle of the rally, I completely felt hated. I completely felt unsafe. I felt completely uncomfortable. And I knew that if this is what I felt when I saw what they were doing to other people, I couldn't imagine what others felt. So it became my mission to shut this down because this can't go on in Chicago.
MARTIN: What was making you so uncomfortable?
BROWN: What made me uncomfortable was the things that were being said. You know...
MARTIN: Like what?
BROWN: ...They was calling us the N-word, they told me to go back to Africa. I've never been to Africa. I'm an American citizen. I'm - this is the only country I've known. You know, we defended the Mexicans and the Muslims. Like, leave them all alone. Let them stay, let them pray. Don't bother them. And they were calling us all kinds of things and even saying to us things that they would do to us. Boy, if I had the chance, I would get you and give you a good whipping. Boy, you're going to be picking cotton for me. That kind of stuff I just couldn't believe could still exist in America in 2016. They were saying that to us at the concession stand, asking me - was I going to buy my food on link? Are you serious right now? These are things that happened to me, but I saw these things happening to other people. You know, I remember when these young ladies got on the floor to pray and the guys was like, well, your God isn't going to save you in this country. Just completely uncalled for disrespect. So we heard what people were saying and we just organically organized, and I darted for that stage. And Secret Service immediately came up and grabbed me, identified themselves - Secret Service, get offstage. And I fought because I went up there for two reasons. Number one, shut this down, and number two, get the right message out in our city. America is already great without the hate.
MARTIN: After you were detained, there was a shot that kept playing on cable news last night of you getting into a physical altercation with a Trump supporter. What happened? What did he say to you? How did that go down?
BROWN: So when I got off the stage - Secret Service let me go, they let me into the crowd. And when I got in the crowd, I was walking through towards the back, and a gentleman on my right threw a water bottle at me, and it was open. Secret Service immediately went to him because he tried to jump over the rail to fight me. And when he did that a guy behind me with an American flag, he grabbed me from behind and put me in a headlock, so I spun around, I got out of the headlock, and I defended myself. I took the swing at the guy, was pulled down by the Secret Service. When I got on the ground, my - the first thing I said is, I'm not resisting, but come on, man. I know you saw them. And he said, just get up and go. He let me go. I was walking out. It's not on camera - more racial slurs, more shots being taken at me. And when I got up to the thing you - I see police putting me in custody.
MARTIN: Do you think you changed any minds about Donald Trump by doing what you did?
BROWN: There were some people in there who were undecided. I think a lot of minds have changed. I think some people are more committed now. I think that they feel like this is an avenue for them to express how they really feel about people like myself that are black, people that are Muslim, people that are for women. And I feel like they feel empowered to do whatever they want to do, and then there's another group. I think that some people are realizing, like, wait a minute. This isn't what we want. This isn't where we're going. This is not what I'm about. So I think we've seen - I think minds changed on both perspectives.
MARTIN: Jedidiah Brown. He was one of the protesters at the Donald Trump rally in Chicago on Friday night. Thanks so much for talking with us, Jedidiah.
BROWN: Thank you.
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