| June 17
June 17 Two people who disrupted a controversial
New York production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" took to
social media on Saturday to defend their protest of the
performance that portrays the assassinated Roman leader with an
actor costumed to resemble U.S. President Donald Trump.
The open-air stage production featuring a magnetic blond
businessman as the ill-fated Caesar, prompted outrage from the
president's supporters who said the link with Trump would
encourage political violence. The flap led two corporate
sponsors to pull out.
"Last night, Conservatives took back the theatre, an
institution they have been locked out of for too long. The left
lost their safe space!" Laura Loomer, a journalist for
right-wing media organization The Rebel, wrote on Twitter.
Loomer, 24, was arrested for misdemeanor criminal
tresspassing and disorderly conduct after rushing the stage
during the open-air performance of the play on Friday evening,
said a New York police spokesman. She was later released with a
ticket ordering her to appear in court.
The Public Theater, which is staging the play in Central
Park, has responded to the criticism by saying the production is
valid artistic expression in keeping with a long tradition of
William Shakespeare adaptations.
At the same time as Loomer jumped on the stage, a second
protester stood up in the audience to loudly criticize the
production and audience. "You are inciting terrorists, the blood
of Steve Scalise is on your hands," the man yelled. He was then
led away by security guards.
The protester later identified himself online, where he
posted the video, as Jack Posobiec, who wrote a book called
"Citizens for Trump."
U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise, the No. 3 Republican in the
U.S. House of Representatives, was critically wounded on
Wednesday when he and three others were shot on a baseball field
in Alexandria, Virginia. The attacker, who had raged against
Trump on social media, was killed by police returning fire.
Earlier this week, Delta Air Lines Inc and Bank of
America Corp pulled funding of the production, hours
after Trump's son Donald Jr. sent a Twitter message questioning
whether it was art or political speech.
In Posobiec's video from New York, audience members are
heard booing to show displeasure with the disruption, as
Posobiec shouts to call them "Nazis." Posobiec was not arrested.
The nonprofit Public Theater noted that like its critics, it
also has the right of free speech under the first amendment of
the U.S. Constitution. It vowed to continue with its staging of
"Julius Caesar" in an enclosed theater in New York's Central
"While we are champions of the first amendment, this
interruption unfortunately was part of a paid strategy driven by
social media," it said on Twitter.
Loomer and Posobiec denied they were paid to protest.
About two weeks ago, comedian Kathy Griffin faced a backlash
over her posing for a photograph with a fake severed and
bloodied head resembling Trump. As a consequence, she lost her
job as a co-host of CNN's New Year's Eve coverage.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank
McGurty and David Gregorio)