Photo by Bob Morehead, The Post Newspapers
At a meet-and-greet for Ohio Congressman and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jim Renacci earlier this month, two men wearing Bikers for Trump jackets removed a disruptive attendee and threw him on the ground outside.
According to the original report
by the The Brunswick Post,
neither the disruptive man, identified as John Leonard, nor the two men who removed him had been invited to the event at Galehouse Tree Farms
in Doylestown, Ohio. It was organized by a man named Tom Weyland for farmers and small business owners in the area between Akron and Canton.
But the removal sparked questions about whether or not members of Bikers for Trump, a group which has endorsed Renacci for Governor, were operating as the Congressman's official security detail.
According to Renacci spokesman James Slepian, they were not. Bikers for Trump weren't serving as security guards at the Nov. 4 event, nor have they been retained by Renacci's campaign in any capacity.
Slepian told Scene by email that John Leonard, in fact, had attended other Renacci events in the past with the specific intention of being removed for disruptive comments.
"[Leonard] once again achieved his goal," Slepian said. "In the past, law enforcement has removed him from these events. At this particular event, law enforcement was not present and Mr. Leonard was removed by event attendees."
Leonard, in comments to reporter Bob Morehead, said he felt he'd been targeted and would have left if he'd been asked by the property owner. He called the men who removed him "junior fascists." Tom Weyland disputed Leonard's account. He said Leonard had been disruptive and had used inappropriate language toward young women working a concession stand.
The men who removed Leonard are thought to be members of an offshoot of the Bikers for Trump group, which was founded by Chris Cox, a chainsaw artist from South Carolina
Scene spoke with the group's moderator in the Midwest, Londa Gatt. She said the two men in question were likely affiliated with "Boots on the Ground," a more militant splinter cell. (In the image above, from the Nov. 4 event, the two men's jackets do indeed say "Boots on the Ground" above the Bikers for Trump logo.)
"We're a political movement, all about getting the right people in office to drain the swamp," Gatt said, referencing Bikers for Trump. "[Boots on the Ground] is all about security. I haven't seen them in action, but they're much more aggressive."