State

White nationalist served with criminal charge from 2016 Trump event

Matthew Heimbach, head of the Traditionalist Workers Party, spoke during a white nationalist rally in April in Pikeville, Ky.
Matthew Heimbach, head of the Traditionalist Workers Party, spoke during a white nationalist rally in April in Pikeville, Ky. aslitz@herald-leader.com

A white nationalist wanted in connection with an altercation last year at a Donald Trump campaign stop in Louisville was served with the charge while leaving a rally in Pikeville over the weekend.

A Pikeville police officer served Matthew Heimbach of Paoli, Ind., with a criminal summons, according to Pikeville officials.

Heimbach is charged with one misdemeanor count of harassment with physical contact but no injury to the victim, according to the summons. Pikeville officials provided a copy to the Herald-Leader.

Heimbach allegedly shoved and screamed at a black woman at a rally Trump held on March 1, 2016 in Louisville, in his successful bid for the Republican nomination for president.

The victim, a 21-year-old college student named Kashiya Nwanguma, and others were peacefully protesting at the event when Trump pointed to the protestors and said “get ’em out of here,” according to a separate lawsuit filed in federal court.

Heimbach “took it upon himself to place his hands on the victim and try to remove her,” a Louisville detective said in the criminal summons issued to Heimbach.

Heimbach is chairman of the Traditionalist Workers Party.

The party “advocates for racially pure nations and communities and blames Jews for many of the world's problems,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the United States.

Heimbach and the party recruited support for Trump in the election, the lawsuit claimed.

The Louisville detective who swore out the summons said Nwanguma thought she might have been stuck with a needle during the confrontation, but no marks were found.

Jefferson District Judge Katie King signed the summons for Heimbach to answer the charge on April 29, 2016.

Pikeville police Chief Phillip Reed said he understood that police weren’t able to serve Heibmach with notice of the criminal charge because he lives out of state.

There was extensive publicity that Heimbach would be in Pikeville on Saturday for a rally with white nationalist groups. Reed said the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office contacted his department about serving the summons on Heimbach.

It’s common for police agencies to serve summonses and warrants for other departments if a person who is wanted is in their jurisdiction, Reed said.

Reed said Heimbach accepted the summons without incident.

In the separate federal lawsuit, Heimbach denied physically assaulting any protestors.

He said that he acted, if at all, in self-defense and in defense of others against protestors, and that he relied on Trump’s authority “to order disruptive persons removed.”

U.S. District Judge David J. Hale ruled in that case that it was plausible to argue that Trump’s statement advocated the use of force.

In his response, Trump denied that his call to “get ’em out of here” was directed at Heimbach and other people in the crowd, and he denied any wrongdoing.

In that lawsuit, Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau are suing Trump, his campaign, Heimbach, and Korean War veteran Alvin Bamberger for alleged wrongdoing at the 2016 rally.

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