Trump Supporter Protests ‘Violence Against the Right’ at Controversial Julius Caesar Play in Central Park

Trump protest
Supporters of US President Donald Trump hold a rally near Trump Tower in Fifth Avenue, in New York on February 5. Two Trump supporters disrupted a performance of "Julius Caesar" in New York's Central Park, claiming it glorified violence against the president. BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty

A pro-Trump protester has been charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct after interrupting a staging of Julius Caesar in New York’s Central Park to protest against the “normalization of political violence against the right.”

Laura Loomer, who identifies herself as a journalist, stormed the stage on Friday during the scene in which the title character, who bears a striking resemblance to President Donald Trump, is assassinated.

“Stop the normalization of political violence against the right! This is unacceptable. You cannot promote this type of violence against Donald Trump,” said Loomer. Audience members booed and security guards quickly removed Loomer from the stage.

The performance was further disrupted by Jack Posobiec, a right-wing commentator linked to various conspiracies theories. “You are all Goebbels! You are all Nazis like Joseph Goebbels!” Posobiec shouted, pointing at the audience members as Loomer was escorted off-stage. Goebbels was a close adviser to Adolf Hitler during the latter’s leadership of Nazi Germany.

The New York Police Department said that Loomer, 24, had been charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct after continuing to shout outside the theater and refusing police requests to move away, the New York Times reported.

Read more: Furor over the Donald Trump-like 'Julius Caesar' staging completely misses Shakespeare's point

The staging of Julius Caesar by the New York City Public Theater has been the subject of much controversy. The performance is part of the annual Shakespeare in the Park festival in New York City. The theater’s art director, Oskar Eustis, chose to adapt the play into a modern setting, with the protagonist wearing a large red tie and blond wig in the style of President Trump. As in Shakespeare’s original, the lead character is assassinated by some of his closest allies towards the end of the play.

Trump supporters have raged that the play incites violence against the president; following early reviews of the play, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted : “I wonder how much of this ‘art’ is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does ‘art’ become political speech & does that change things?”

0614_Trump_shooting_speech_01 President Donald Trump delivers a statement about the shooting at a congressional baseball practice, speaking from the White House on June 14. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The controversy led sponsors including Delta Airlines and the Bank of America to withdraw funding from the play. But the theater has defended its staging of the play, saying that it “in no way advocates violence towards anyone.”

The director Eustis said that the performance had been stopped for “less than a minute” due to the protests and that the show had resumed on the line “Liberty! Freedom!” before continuing. “Free speech for all, but let’s not stop the show,” he said, according to the New York Times.

During the protest, Posobiec also shouted at audience members: “The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands!” Scalise, the Republican whip in the House of Representatives, is in a critical condition after a gunman shot several lawmakers and others at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia on Wednesday. Trump Jr. also appeared to link the two events, retweeting a tweet by a political commentator, Harlan Z. Hill, which said: “Events like today are EXACTLY why we took issue with NY elites glorifying the assassination of our President.”

The shooter, James Hodgkinson—who died after being shot by police in the incident—reportedly campaigned for Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential primaries. Sanders said he was “sickened by this despicable act” after learning of Hodgkinson’s affiliation with his campaign.

Loomer has been released after her arrest. A crowd-funding campaign initiated to help pay her legal costs has raised over $6,000 of a $25,000 target.

The Public Theater production is free to enter and will run until Sunday.