On Thursday afternoon, a judge found Ryan King guilty of disorderly conduct for his role in a fight that broke out at Auburn University last April. King, a 38-year-old tattoo artist from Montgomery, Alabama, went to Auburn for Richard Spencer’s controversial appearance on April 18.
Outside the hall where Spencer was scheduled to speak, King got into a dispute with a protester — an argument that escalated to violence.
Both King and the protester — 28-year-old Seth Myles Waldon — were arrested at the scene. Michael Hill, leader of the neo-Confederate hate group League of the South, claimed King was “one of our compatriots” in a post the following day soliciting donations to help King pay his fine.
At Thursday’s trial, Waldon was called as a witness for the defense. During his testimony, he said, “Mr. King approached a woman and made a threatening gesture … I stepped between him and her.”
In King’s testimony, he told the judge that before Waldon engaged him, “I was what they call ‘trolling’ the other people,” with a can of Coke in one hand and a phone streaming live on Facebook in the other. “I thought I had the right to speak my mind,” he said. “Then I come face to face with this huge bully.”
King’s attorney argued his actions constituted self-defense based on Alabama’s “Stand Your Ground” statutes. But the arresting officer disagreed. He testified for the City of Auburn that King engaged in threatening behavior and disrupted peaceful protests.
Based primarily on video evidence, the judge sided with the City, ruling that King was guilty of disorderly conduct for instigating and escalating the altercation.
“To me, it’s just like another bar fight,” he said in his decision. King clearly took exception to the outcome: He interrupted the judge twice to argue, prompting his lawyer to intervene and apologize.
King received a suspended 30-day jail sentence, provided he pays fines and court fees totaling $451 and avoids fights in the future.
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