Authorities in North Carolina were stepping up security Tuesday ahead of Donald Trump rallies in Wilmington and Fayetteville. The lawyer for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, Ronnie Mitchell, told the Fayetteville Observer deputies were "very well-prepared" and had "the appropriate plan and training and experience in place."
The precautions were necessary because Tuesday will be Republican presidential nominee Trump's first time back in Fayetteville since March, when a young protester was punched in the face while being led out of the venue by police. John McGraw, 78, told reporters 26-year-old Rakeem Jones "deserved it." McGraw was later charged with assault, battery and disorderly conduct, according to Time.
At Tuesday's Fayetteville event, scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT, police will be on high alert.
"What we're going to do this time — not only expediting people out of the building if we have protestors or if people get out of control — they're getting charged," Cumberland County Sgt. Sean Swain told WTVD. "We're going to have zero tolerance. If they give us a problem they're going to the jail."
Meanwhile, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington — which is hosting the event there — sent out an email telling people the school was taking safety seriously.
"Several police agencies are hard at work preparing for tomorrow’s event, including UPD, the Wilmington Police Department, other local authorities and the Secret Service," WWAYTV3 reported Jose V. Sartarelli wrote. "While we presume that the event will be a peaceful one, and we strongly encourage civility and respect among those planning to attend, we are preparing for all possibilities, as we would for any large campus event."
Since the March incident, Trump has become the official GOP candidate and seen continued event interruptions by protesters. While speaking Monday in Detroit, he was interrupted 14 times within 25 minutes, according to ABC News. Trump even blasted his followers with a fundraising email about the activists after the rally.
"A group of left-wing protesters interrupted me over 10 times," CNN reported the email read. "But the protests are only going to get louder, the attacks will get nastier, and the lies will get more vicious. We need all hands on deck to cut through the noise, and get our message straight to the American voter."
RealClearPolitics data showed Trump losing to rival Hillary Clinton by about 1.3 percentage points in North Carolina polls as of Sunday.