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82-year-old veteran beaten over Trump 2020 sign says attack won’t keep him from supporting Trump

Donald Trump supporter (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Charlie Chase has a message for the guy accused of beating him up for holding a Trump 2020 sign: “You will not scare me away!”

The 82-year-old Air Force veteran proved that by exercising his First Amendment right — again — for all to see Saturday in Fall River. He proudly stood in the square, an example to what the revolutionary Thomas Paine once wrote: “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

Chase said the middle of his back ached after the attack, but the nonstop calls of support have eased his pain — especially kind words from Donald Trump Jr.

“I love this country,” the former teacher told the Herald. “But what’s going on makes me want to cry. It’s so sad. I lived in the years of the Cold War and I see what’s happening now.”

Wearing a Make America Great Again hat and holding up a political sign on a street corner is his right, Chase pointed out. He’s a constitutional scholar who once taught Japanese, history, English and more at Providence College and Stonehill College.

He served in the Air Force and lived in Japan for years where he taught English as a second language.

But police say a young man who took offense to his MAGA hat and poster decided to violate a whole lot of his rights this past week.

“I never thought anything like this would happen to me. I’m just trying to protect my First Amendment rights,” Chase said. “Even some in the media are threatening our constitutional rights.”

The political arena can be a dangerous place, even for those on the grassroots.

Aiden Courtright, 24, of Fall River, is accused of ripping up Chase’s Trump sign and throwing the elderly man to the ground Tuesday at the rotary at North Main Street and Airport Road in Fall River shortly after 5 p.m. He also reportedly tore off the man’s MAGA hat, “violently” threw him to the ground and kicked him in the ribs “with his leather pointed shoes,” police said.

Courtright was charged with a civil rights violation with injury, assault and battery on someone over 60 with injury, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and vandalizing property. Fall River cops in a police report described the incident as a “political hate crime.”

Cops say Courtright hid from them in his apartment, but then turned himself in when contacted by police. He was released on personal recognizance Thursday.

Chase said, “This isn’t the America I served for.” But the health care worker and truck driver who told police they witnessed the attack didn’t consider the veteran’s political views when they rushed to help.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” Donald Trump Jr. told Chase on Howie Carr’s radio show Friday. “We’re going to send you extra MAGA swag.”

And, Chase said, he’ll proudly wear it for all to see — right up to Election Day.


© 2020 the Boston Herald