Campus officer charged with assault

Victor Dorsey, Director of Security at VWU, was charged with assault Wednesday, Mar. 4, following a physical altercation on campus. On Saturday night, Feb. 29, Dorsey assaulted a Trump supporter from the Virginia Beach community.

52-year old Markus Gohring was the victim of the incident. Gohring is a highly active volunteer for the Republican Party of Virginia Beach and an avid supporter of President Donald Trump. Among the crowd waiting outside of the doors to the Batten Student Center, where the rally was being held, Gohring stood with three other avid supporters.

The campus event was open to the community, with many students and community members in attendance.  Still, the crowd included not only progressive Democrats, but also contained many undecided voters, moderates and Trump supporters.

The Marlin Chronicle interviewed this particular group of Trump supporters about their own perspectives on Sanders and the state of politics.  “I wanted to tell the people that go there that I’m not with them,” Gohring said, per WAVY 10.

They brought up several popular talking points against Sanders including Sanders’ favorable views of the dictator Fidel Castro, the economic turmoil of socialist Venezuela, a preference for tariff revenue rather than taxes and a core value of rugged individualism.

However, some of the discourse was far from calm. The long lines of Sanders supporters expressed strong dissatisfaction with the four Trump supporters, calling them “ignorant.”   Some of the Trump supporters responded with inflammatory statements, such as Andrew, an avid Trump follower, who shouted “LGBTQ is a foothold for pedophilia!” 

Largely, dueling chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” and “Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!” predominated the exchanges.  However, there appeared to be no immediate threat to safety.

A Virginia Wesleyan security car soon arrived in the area, where security personnel quickly began intervening.  “Sir, we have the right to demonstrate our First Amendment right here,” Andrew said. Officer Marty Goldman, reminded the men that this is a private campus, while calling for back-up.

It was then that Dorsey entered the setting, directing to the Trump supporters, “You are on private property, you are going to leave right now.”  Andrew and the rest of the group stood incredulous, still advocating their First Amendment rights to remain there.

“I’ve told you once, and I am not gonna tell you again.  Get in your vehicles and leave, or I’ll have you arrested.” Dorsey said.  The Trump supporters largely did not budge. They instead held strong in their position, Andrew once again voicing, “Kinda sounds like you’re trampling on the First Amendment by making us leave. We’re not threatening anybody.  Who filed a complaint?”

In a video of this stand-off outside the doors to the rally, Gohring and Dorsey can be seen standing eye-to-eye just inches apart.  Despite being asked to leave several times, Gohring stood still holding up his ‘Trump 2020’ flag. “Don’t try me,” Dorsey added.

As the group slowly began to make their way off of campus, they voiced their displeasure once again. “It stinks of bias,” Andrew said.

“Leave! And I’m not gonna tell you again,” Dorsey responded. Even still, Gohring questioned Dorsey’s tone and authority, “Can I see your authorization that you are allowed to tell us to leave?”

The threat of being arrested eventually motivated the four men to depart.   Finally, they began to leave campus, walking through the parking lot with security escorting them.  Dorsey responded to the cries about security getting physical, “You ain’t seen violent, buddy.”

Several videos then showed Dorsey and Gohring facing each other, just moments later.  With no sign of physical provocation on video preceding Dorsey’s action, Dorsey ripped Gohring’s flag down.  In a struggle for the flag, Dorsey wrestled Gohring down hard onto the pavement.   

Gohring popped back up and shoved Dorsey away, while Dorsey pulled his baton.  Gohring suffered minor injuries, largely from scraped knees, per WAVY 10.

“Today at a Bernie Sanders rally I was attacked by a security guard and tackled to the ground. I would have expected this from a Bernie supporter but not from a guard.”  After walking too slowly for security’s patience, Dorsey pressed the Trump supporters to continue faster. “He approached me then from behind and the rest is (on) video,” Gohring said, per WAVY 10.

Some conservative news outlets and social media accounts picked up the story immediately.  One such account, John Cardillo (@johncardillo), posted a tweet that amassed over 20,000 retweets and 30,000 likes.  Accompanying the video in the tweet was the caption, “This is how security guards at @vawesleyan University treat Trump supporters peacefully walking through campus. No reason for the guard to use this level of aggression and force. This was pure political bias and rage.”

Several videos documenting the incident can be found on YouTube, and the websites YourContent and CampusReform.  A lot of pushback from conservative social media accounts can be found on Facebook and Twitter comments as well, following initial backlash for Bernie Sanders to have even been invited to campus.

In the only statement made by the University at the time of press, a spokeswoman for VWU addressed the incident in general.  “Virginia Wesleyan University holds freedom of speech and open dialogue at the deepest core of its values,” she said. “However, when the conversation turns to physical violence and becomes a threat to public safety, it will not be tolerated on our campus.” 

At the time of this publication, Dorsey remains employed with the university.  The Virginian-Pilot reports that Gohring filed a complaint with the Department of Criminal Justice Services and that a warrant has been issued for Dorsey.

Alex Powers