Saul Eugene says he was fully prepared to be kicked out Donald Trump's recent campaign rally—which is understandable considering his brave outfit choice.
The 23-year-old made national headlines this week when he was removed from the Thursday night rally while wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey. Video showed security escorting the Minnesota resident out of the Target Center, as he flexed his arms and blew kisses to the crowd.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season, when he began conducting on-field protests against racial injustice and police brutality. Trump has criticized Kaepernick and all other athletes who refused to stand during the national anthem; however, the president recently said he supported Kaepernick's return to the NFL "only if he's good enough."
Eugene told TIME magazine he donned the jersey "to send a message, without having to use too many words."
"[Kaepernick] essentially gave up his whole career to fight for the things he believed in," Eugene said, before turning his direction to Trump. "We’re talking about a candidate who thrives off of white males who feel that their privilege is being threatened by minorities, women, all of that stuff. A black man willing to use his platform to step up and speak out on a lot of the atrocities that are committed across this country on a regular basis, it scares them. It’s everything they fear. They’re losing their control and their upper hand."POST CONTINUES BELOW
So, was Eugene removed strictly because of his support for Kaepernick? Not exactly. The man told TIME drama began before Trump had even taken the stage. During one of the opening speeches, Eugene said he began laughing at one of the statements, which prompted a confrontation with a fellow audience member.
"I wasn’t laughing any louder than people were cheering," he explained. "Sure, it was audible. But it wasn’t an act of aggression in any way."
Eugene claims the man threatened to hit him, to which he responded, "I dare you."
The man called over a security guard who, at first, declined to kick Eugene out. Then Eugene laughed a few more times; he says the man turned around again, called him names and then made a phone call. Security soon came down again, this time telling Eugene he was "uninvited" from the event.
Eugene told TIME insists the jersey wasn't part of an attention-seeking stunt, and that he was simply trying to show his stance.
"There is power in imagery and power in symbols. Kaepernick has become one of those symbols," he explained. "I was prepared to be kicked out if that’s what it led to. I was prepared to be very un-liked and show my stance. The thing is, it’s unwavering. It you’re on the right side of history, you’re on the right side of history."