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HomeBreakingHow the Media Distorted the Serb Hall Trump Rally Story

How the Media Distorted the Serb Hall Trump Rally Story



If you read the news stories about the pro-Trump rally at Serb Hall, you’d come away convinced that the manager, Nick Alioto, was attacked by multiple “violent” Trump supporters. You’d never learn that the only arrest at the Trump rally was of a Black Lives Matter supporter who was caught on video, in a separate incident, physically attacking a Trump supporter after threatening repeatedly to knock Trump supporters out, while yelling racial slurs.

“I’ll knock you the f*ck out (N word),” the BLM supporter says in a video to Trump supporters at one point.

There is simply no evidence – from videos or eyewitnesses – that Alioto was kicked as he told the news media. Rather, a new video obtained by Wisconsin Right Now paints a more complicated picture than the media narrative: Right before he fell, Alioto appears to attempt to take hold of a Trump supporter’s neck, the video shows. “You choked him,” several people alleged to Alioto in one of the videos when he claims, “You did this.”

To be clear, we don’t think either side handled the situation well, and we don’t think the Trump supporter, former WHEDA official Perfecto Rivera, should have reached for Alioto’s microphone first (or taken it, as Alioto claims on video). However, we also think that the media’s coverage of the Serb Hall rally completely sanitizes BLM’s behavior (once again) and fails to give you the more nuanced, fuller, and, thus, more accurate version of what happened in the Alioto incident.

We’re going to give you all the facts and let you decide for yourself, including an exclusive interview with Rivera, who alleged that he could feel Alioto trying to put his hands around his neck.

Examples of the misleading coverage, which seemed to be trying too hard to fit the complicated incident into a simplistic narrative of so-called “violent Trump supporters”:

Channel 12’s headline proclaimed in part, “1 Arrested, After Man Attacked.” The article then focuses on Alioto’s unsupported claim that he was kicked and gives no information about the man arrested in the separate incident (hint to Channel 12, there’s video and the man wrote about it on Facebook; it’s clear who he was – a  BLM supporter.)

The Milwaukee Independent ran this breathlessly hyperbolic headline: “Serb Hall rally turns violent as Pro-Trump supporters ignore city’s health order and assault manager.” The site then falsely reported: “The situation escalated further when Trump supporters push Alioto to the ground.” In fact, video appears to show that Alioto lost his balance and fell.

CBS 58 reported the incident as “a clash between the two groups.” Video clearly shows the BLM supporter attacking the Trump supporter (the BLM incident is different from the Alioto incident). CBS 58 also erroneously says no one was arrested (hint to Channel 58 – the arrest is on video.) Channel 58 then rounds out its article by saying that Proud Boys and white supremacists attended a different rally in D.C. There’s no evidence they were at the Milwaukee rally, so what’s the point of putting that in this story?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described the BLM violence in sanitized fashion by writing that, “Social media captured at least one physical altercation between attendees.” The newspaper also labeled all Trump supporters’ claims of voter fraud a “fictional line.” How is that objective? It wasn’t just “between attendees.” Video shows the aggressor was a man affiliated with BLM. The Journal Sentinel wrote of the Alioto incident: “Within seconds, Alioto was surrounded, and one man grabbed him from behind, apparently trying to take the microphone from his hands.” Actually, eyewitnesses we spoke to think the man grabbed Alioto from behind to stop him from grabbing Rivera around the neck.

As for Fox 6, they reported, falsely, on social media that the Milwaukee Health Department shut the event down. It didn’t. The Health Department issued violations, including one for people standing. Alioto told people to sit down after Sheriff David Clarke told them to stand up. Their story reported that Alioto was “pulled to the ground by members of the crowd.” We couldn’t find evidence of anyone pulling Alioto to the ground. Again, he appears to have lost his balance and fallen. Videos show this.

No one pointed out that Alioto grabbed at Rivera’s neck and that the BLM supporter struck a woman at the rally. Again, both are on video.

What Really Happened – The Full Picture

The new video we obtained of the Alioto situation (above) is from a different angle. It shows a key part of the incident that a widely shared Fox 6 video didn’t capture because Fox 6 panned away at that moment. The Fox 6 video has been viewed more than 250,000 times, helping cement the narrative of supposedly violent Trump supporters.

The man who gave the new video to us says it was given to Fox 6, but they declined to run it. The video shows that Rivera tried to take the microphone from Alioto. He then turned his back on Alioto. Alioto then responded by coming at and trying to grab Rivera’s neck from behind. At that point, another man holds Alioto from behind in what some observers felt was an attempt to stop the altercation/Alioto from charging further at Rivera. The man seems to be holding Alioto back. You can’t see what happens at this point because a man is blocking the view, but Alioto says his microphone was taken. You can see Rivera is still present, although you can’t quite see what he does. Alioto then appears to try to move away from the man restraining him and reaches for a table and loses his balance and falls. A group of people then help Alioto get back up, although one man does yell at him.

Again: Contrary to his claims that he was kicked while on the ground, the videos show people trying to help Alioto get back up. There is zero evidence he was kicked or pulled to the ground or pushed to the ground that we could find.

“I’m positive he was never kicked,” Matt Ostlund, an eyewitness, told us. “The people that were around Alioto were people trying to help him up.”

What does Perfecto Rivera say?

Rivera, 73, spoke exclusively to Wisconsin Right Now. He said that “Sheriff Clarke was so eloquent in his commentary that we can’t allow ourselves to be taken advantage of again. He asked us all to stand up. This guy for me was trying to steal our voice. This is freedom of speech. Our mistake was we held it on his private property.”

He continued of Alioto, “He said I pushed him and stole his microphone out of his hand and then other people were kicking him. I never touched his body. I did tear the microphone out of his hand. At that point, he was stealing our voice. That was my freedom of speech. When I took the microphone away. I laid it on the table where the power source was. It happened suddenly. I didn’t hurt the guy.”

During the incident, says Rivera, Alioto “attacked me and tried to choke me. I could feel it. The lack of his strength though in trying to choke me, I just walked away from it. He was trying to put his hands around my throat, and people were trying to pull him away from me. I didn’t see if he fell.”

Later he said he became more conscious that they were on private property and regretted the incident as a result. He said he believes Alioto was “threatened by the city. Had it been a Black Lives Matter event, they (the city) wouldn’t have cared.”

He doesn’t believe Alioto was pushed or kicked. “That didn’t happen. I didn’t witness that,” he said. He added that he is fearful to even put a Trump sign outside his house. He said there was a reason “our forefathers made the First Amendment number one. The other side wants to take that away from us.”

Wendy Keehan, the eyewitness who took the new video, told us: “Alioto had the microphone-Perfecto grabbed it from him, Alioto went after Perfecto and put his hands on his neck. People then surrounded Alioto and got him off Perfecto. I couldn’t see if he was kicked. He was not shoved into the table. It was the momentum of his own body weight that made him fall into the table. People helped him up.”

Here’s the more limited Fox 6 version that was widely circulated.

We contacted Alioto for comment, but he didn’t get back to us. “City of Milwaukee is here. I’m not going to lose our license. I will stop the rally if you don’t sit down. Sit down,” he said to the crowd.

Here’s what Alioto told WISN-TV: “One gentlemen rushed me and pushed me and twisted the microphone out of my hand and as he was moving away, pushed me again, and so I attempted to get the microphone back and grabbed, him and at that point, a number of people in the crowd pushed me to the ground and started kicking me.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Alioto said “several people kicked him in the ribs and chest,” which the newspaper noted you can’t see in the video.

BLM Violence at the Pro Trump Rally

The lone arrest was of the Black Lives Matter supporter who shares People’s Revolution marches on Facebook and wrote that he was also in Kenosha. He was captured on video (he’s the man in yellow) appearing to strike a Trump supporter. Watch the video above and judge for yourself.

The Journal Sentinel reported that one citation was issued at the event. The BLM supporter who goes by the name Jasj Oyw on social media wrote on Facebook that he got a ticket. “White dude said who’s your daddy nbs that shi hurt his friend 😞then it hurt me🤣 I hope his face okay🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏽‍♂️” he wrote.

Oyw also posted a video in which he repeatedly threatens to knock people out and uses the N word at the Serb Hall Trump rally.

“If you touch me I’ll beat your ass. And that goes for all you N words out here. One person touch somebody I’m knocking you the f*ck out. I don’t care if you’re a female or not. I’ll knock your ass clean the f*ck out boy,” he said at various points in the video. “I’ll knock you the F* out N word,” he said at another point referring to “dumb as* trump supporters.” You can watch his video below, but it uses disturbing language, including racial slurs.

There is also video of the arrest. We don’t condone the language used in the tag line of this YouTube video but are embedding it to show the arrest.

“Opposing sides combated each other,” said Joshua Kuehn, who was at the Trump rally. “People came out and yelled really, really nasty things at Trump supporters…I had people calling names and calling me a racist. I’m not a racist. I don’t agree with that.”

He added, “I did see two gentlemen…push a woman.” He said they were associated with Black Lives Matter, and the woman “was on the Trump side. MPD was really not in the mix. They were standing in the median.”

What the Health Department Says

Serb hall trump rally media
Hilario deleon provided this photo to wrn.

We contacted the City Health Department, and their spokesman said they didn’t shut down the event and weren’t planning to do so but did hit the venue with violations.

“Serb Hall will be receiving multiple violations,” confirmed Jeff Fleming, spokesman for the Milwaukee Health Department, in an interview with Wisconsin Right Now. He said four violations would be issued at $500 each. At 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 14, health inspectors stopped by the event. “Four major provisions were in violation,” Fleming said, listing them as social distancing, no masks, capacity, and “people were not seated.”

Fleming said that people were “required to be seated” and that “everyone has to be wearing a mask unless they’re eating or drinking.” He said he didn’t believe there was a medical exemption.

He told the Journal Sentinel that “The Health Department has changed its policy. There are no longer warnings given.”

He didn’t explain when the policy was changed and why.

Fleming says a health department inspector was shoved but not injured. He said he didn’t know which side that person was on but they shouted that the health inspector was a “commie.” Fox6 captured video of Trump supporters as they paraded into the street.

According to Fleming, on Nov. 13, Friday, the Milwaukee Health Department met with Serb Hall and “went over the rules.”

He said there is a special provision in the current COVID-19 order that “allows up to 100 people for events covered by First Amendment privilege, such as political rallies.”

“People were not seated, he added. At that point, he said health inspectors “reached out to the manager. They went and told him they had observed violations.” Fleming said the Health Department wasn’t planning to shut the event down. “They were going to give violations. It was the manager who was attempting to shut it down, fearing for his license,” said Fleming.

Asked if the inspectors mentioned the license to Serb Hall, Fleming said the Health Department “doesn’t control the licensing process” but does provide information to the licensing committee and the information would likely be mentioned at renewal time.

He said after the manager went to the podium to make his announcement, the health inspectors “were verbally abused and one was pushed but not injured.” They then left.

Jim Piwowarczyk
Jim Piwowarczyk is an investigative journalist and co-founder of Wisconsin Right Now.

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