Tim Adams, the protester who was tackled inside the Ohio Union during a Monday night rally protesting President-elect Donald Trump, announced on Tuesday that he is seeking to drop the charges of assault filed against Shane Michael Stanton, the student who tackled him.
In a public Facebook post, Adams said the decision came after “it was clear that my assault was not politically motivated in the way that we previously thought, nor was it committed by a Trump supporter.”
Adams, a lead organizer with International Socialist Organization-Columbus, was delivering a speech on the steps leading to the second floor of the Union on Monday night to a crowd of protesters when Stanton descended the steps behind Adams’ back, shoving him and knocking him down.
Stanton’s mother confirmed to The Columbus Dispatch on Tuesday evening that her son has Asperger Syndrome, a developmental condition on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum. People with Asperger Syndrome often struggle with social, sensory and communication skills. Friends of Stanton told The Lantern late Monday evening that his condition might have been a factor in his actions.
Lori Shelley, president and executive director the the Asperger Autism Spectrum Education Network, a nonprofit that offers education and advocacy for issues surrounding autism-spectrum conditions, said there was no correlation between Asperger Syndrome and violence. But loud noises and lights can lead to people with Asperger Syndrome acting before thinking about consequences.
“It doesn’t just annoy them, they can’t focus on anyone else,” Shelley said. “It’s almost like assault on the brain … If you see a reaction, it’s usually a loud reaction. There’s nothing subtle about the reaction, there’s frustration you see.”
The Columbus branch of the International Socialists Organization, which organized the rally, released the following statement on Tuesday, which reads, in part:
“Because there were several individual Trump supporters heckling the crowd throughout the night, because of the nature of the statements the man yelled as he tackled Tim, and, given the reports and experiences of violence and threats of violence from right-wing individuals across the country and at OSU, most witnesses reasonably assumed the assailant was a Trump supporter. Initially, with the information available, Tim felt it was important that white nationalists not be further emboldened by this action and decided to pursue criminal charges in the hopes that it might play some role in protecting movement activists from similar or potentially worse harm in the future.
“Since last night, however, we have learned that the man, an OSU student, is not a right-wing activist and was himself upset by the Trump election. We have received further information we will not disclose to protect the man’s privacy, but which has made us confident he should not face charges for the action.
“Tim and other ISO members are in the process of reaching out to police, prosecutors, and this student’s family and friends to have charges dropped immediately and to ensure his quick release from jail.”
Stanton posted bail for assault charges on Tuesday morning after his arraignment in Franklin County Municipal Court. Stanton, his family and his attorney declined to comment at the courthouse. The Lantern has reached out to Adams for further comment.
Update, 8:19 p.m.: This article was updated information about Stanton’s condition.