Last March, a viral video caught the moment when John Franklin McGraw sucker punched Rakeem Jones while the latter was being escorted out of a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. McGraw was charged with assault and battery, making him the first person to face serious fines and possible jail time for inciting violence against a protester at a Trump rally. A charge of communicating threats was later added when comments McGraw made about enjoying the punch and possibly having to kill Jones were aired on Inside Edition.
Most would assume McGraw and Jones’ demeanor towards one another wouldn’t have changed much during the former’s sentencing on Wednesday. However, as video captured by CBS affiliate WNCN shows, the two men had come to an understanding — so much that they faced one another, shook hands, and hugged it out. “We’re caught up in a political mess today,” said McGraw, adding: “You and me, we’re going to heal our country.”
After the hearing, during which McGraw received one year of unsupervised probation for his actions in March, Jones told reporters “it just felt good being able to shake his hand, and being able to actually face him.” According to WNCN, the pair spoke with one another on a video podcast called Panacea Open Courtroom in November. McGraw then noted his shock at being accused of issuing a “death threat” against Jones (even though the Inside Edition video proves this).
Despite the hug, Jones told WNCN he thought McGraw’s punishment should have been more severe and compared it to a friend’s similar court case: “I’ve got a friend facing about five years for what, at the root of this case, was a fight.”