On the Trail of the Fayetteville “Sucker-Puncher”
To comment go to Treasure Liberty.
In our previous article, we expressed doubt that the 78-year-old man, John Franklin McGraw, who delivered a surprise forearm to the head of a young black agitator at a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was really a local resident. All the news reports said that he was from Linden, a small Cumberland County community some 20 miles from the county seat of Fayetteville. I had talked to the postmistress there by telephone and she said that she didn’t deliver mail to anyone by that name and no one with whom she had spoken had ever heard of him, either.
This question hits rather close to home for a number of reasons. I grew up in a similar community to Linden some 90 miles up I-95 in Nash County. The 2000 census said that Linden had a population of 127 people, a little less than that of my home community when I lived there. The only time that anyone in our region might have worn cowboy garb, as McGraw did at the rally, was if they were going to a square dance. Elderly men with long ponytails were also unheard of. I spent some time in the Fayetteville region at ROTC summer camp in nearby Fort Bragg and later doing artillery exercises with an Army Reserve unit, and from what I have seen the area is culturally little different from where I grew up. Someone like McGraw would have been known and recognized.
The question of where McGraw came from is important because it is related to the authenticity of the widely reported incident. If McGraw traveled some distance to attend the rally, there is a good chance that someone put him up to it.
If the generally rotten news media are trying to conceal the fact that he came from relatively far away, the likelihood that he is a phony and a provocateur increases greatly. The monolithic press is working as hard as it can, after all, to paint Trump as a racist. We have witnessed the spectacle of the claim that Trump was slow to renounce the endorsement of former Klansman David Duke, when, as it turned out, Duke never endorsed him at all.
He does have the endorsement of white nationalist Jared Taylor, which we can expect the news media to play up more as we get further into the campaign. I believe I demonstrate beyond serious doubt in “Dylann Roof and Jared Taylor” that Taylor is no more genuine than the forearm that McGraw threw at the Fayetteville Trump rally was a genuine punch. To see the anti-Trump media mechanism in action, just check out “Hear a white nationalist’s robocall urging Iowa voters to back Trump” at the rabidly anti-Trump Washington Post (The March 29 editorial cartoon in The Post includes “race-baiting” among a litany of anti-Trump charges though no example of it has ever been presented.) You can watch Taylor perform for CNN like a trained seal here on YouTube. Most recently, Buzzfeed touted the fact that the founder of another likely phony white nationalist outfit, Stormfront, has urged his followers to vote for Trump.
The white-on-black assault at the Fayetteville rally fits the media narrative almost too well, which is why they would play it up, and is also a big reason to suspect its authenticity. One might contrast it with what happened at a Trump rally in Tucson, Arizona, a few days later. There a powerfully built young man administered a brief but serious beating to a disrupter decked out in a cut-up American flag and accompanied by a person mockingly wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. In that instance, though, the attacker was black and the absorber of the punches and kicks was white. It was clearly the real thing, an act of spontaneous outrage by a man who turned out to be an Air Force staff sergeant on active duty at a nearby base. It didn’t fit the “racist” narrative, though, so we hear little about it.
If John Franklin McGraw is not really from Linden, NC, I wondered how it came about that everyone reporting the news said that he was. My friend Hugh Turley, using the columnist hat that he has sometimes worn for his local free monthly, the Hyattsville Life and Times, would call the Cumberland County Sheriff’s office, which arrested McGraw and I would email the reporter of the episode nearest to the scene at the Fayetteville Observer. Turley, as it turned out, experienced a few days of telephone tag before getting any results. My results were quick, but far from definitive. Since I haven’t asked the reporter for his permission to publish his emails I shall identify him only as “PP,” after my “Press Peonage” poem, which begins, “Pity the modern American journalist, trapped inside the system.”
My Exchanges with a “Press Peon”
Friday, March 18
You and everyone else in the press have written that John McGraw, the 78-year-old guy who made news at the Trump rally in Fayetteville, is from Linden. What is the origin of that information? There don't seem to be any McGraws in Cumberland County, much less in the very small community of Linden.
Have you or anyone from your newspaper made any attempt to talk with him or anyone who might happen to know him? The Daily Kos says they spoke to a relative of his, but they don't identify the relative.
March 18, PP responds:
He lives in Linden. Or, the Linden area. At least, up to last week. We plan to try to talk to him, but everytime I am on schedule to do that something else comes up that I'm assigned to. I hope he will talk with me. I think it would make for interesting story. PP
March 18, I respond:
Let me rephrase my initial question. What evidence do you have that John Franklin McGraw lives in Linden or its general vicinity, or that he was living there at the time of the incident in Fayetteville?
March 18, PP again:
It's on his updated case information at courthouse. Do you know that he lives elsewhere?
I had posted my article two days before I made my email query, and I had left a phone message with the reporter before reaching him by email. In that phone message I mentioned my web site, but he seems not to have read my article or he surely would not have thought that he could get by with that brush-off assurance that McGraw lives in Linden. I seem to have shaken his confidence a bit with my persistence, as evidenced by his question to me. I decide to lay a few more cards on the table:
March 18, my response:
Well, he's originally from the Asheville area, where he was living when the Hendersonville newspaper did a story about him about seven years ago, and the postmistress in Linden has never heard of him. Have you seen the courthouse information? If it states there that he is a resident of Linden, is it not possible that it is based simply upon what McGraw told them? Has his residence been verified?
Over the weekend I continue my search for McGraw on the Internet, and hit what looks to me like certain pay dirt on Switchboard.com. A John Franklin McGraw lives on Painter Street in Galax (pronounced Gay-lax), VA. He is 78 years old and he previously lived in Asheville, two locations in nearby Henderson County where Hendersonville is the county seat, and Lufkin, Texas. This is clearly the Fayetteville “sucker puncher.” I lay some of those cards on the table Monday morning with this email to PP:
March 21, me:
You asked me Friday if I knew that John Franklin McGraw lives somewhere besides Linden. Now I think I do, and I think you might have a big story here if you should follow up on it. According to the best evidence I can find, he lives in Galax, VA, with his girlfriend, a North Carolina State graduate who has an interior design business there. Her name is Fayma J. Nye. They both live on Painter Street. He moved to Galax from either Asheville or Etowah, NC, in Henderson County, where the 2009 article was written about this intriguing man. I don't think he has ever had any connection to Cumberland County.
You might, as a first step, go over to Linden and see what the folks there think about being tarred by association with this fellow. You might also try to nail down with some finality the origin of the reported Linden connection. Did McGraw present identification such as a driver's license giving a Linden address? Is that address real? Does he actually live at that address?
Of course, if the man is a phony, I guess i don't have to tell you that he would have some pretty powerful and dangerous people behind him, so I think you would want to be careful. I would be interested in what you might end up writing, if anything.
March 21, PP replies:
Dave: Thanks for the information. I'm hoping they give me the time to try to talk to him today. But it's Monday, and I never know what I'll be assigned. Your info is greatly appreciated. ... What do you mean, though, if he's a phony? That's he not really John McGraw and simply using McGraw's name? PP
It is obvious from his question that PP has not read my article or anything else I have written
March 21, I respond:
From the photograph of McGraw in the Hendersonville newspaper it's pretty clear that this is not a case of identity theft. It is the same John Franklin McGraw.
What I mean is that he could be the precise opposite of a Trump supporter, that is, someone working for one or more of his opponents to make Trump and his supporters look bad. If you read the BlueRidgeNow article about him you find, for instance, that he has had one foot in Texas for most of his adult life and that as a Scripture citer he fits the mold of a Ted Cruz supporter better than a Trump supporter. He also comes across as a good deal more cosmopolitan and sophisticated than the ignorant sounding hothead who was conveniently quickly interviewed after he threw what even the victim called an elbow instead of a punch. Actually, if you look closely it's a rather ineffectual forearm and not a punch that means business. As a former boxer, he would know how to throw a damaging punch, but also as a former boxer, he would be accustomed to reining in his fists when outside the ring.
Also, considering the things that he has done in his life, his livelihood would likely have been a good deal less affected by trade and immigration policy than the average blue-collar worker and tradesman, who constitutes the bulwark of Trump's support.
Also on Monday Turley finally hears back from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. They tell him that the home of record they have for him is in Linden, but the spokesman volunteers that McGraw has “a number of residences” as he follows the gun show circuit around, apparently selling his handmade holsters and such.
This information only deepens the mystery around the man. These residences would hardly be required nor would they be affordable for a man living such a life. Before I can ponder this question further, I get this message the next day:
March 22, PP again:
Dave: He lives outside Linden here in N.C. I went out to his place yesterday. I talked to his neighbors. He wasn't there, but they said he had been living there about two years. Repairs guns and works with leather. He put up a couple of "No trespassing" signs after the Trump incident. PP
March 22, my response:
Thanks. I'll be looking for your follow-up story.
March 23, me, after second thoughts, to PP:
Could you be so kind as to tell me roughly how far "outside Linden" and roughly in what direction McGraw's house is? Better yet, do you have his physical address?
Good luck in ever finding him there, because the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office says he has "multiple residences."
March 24, my last email to PP, to which he has not responded:
It looks like we've found him through the online court records. They even have a panoramic photo of his neighborhood at 297 Boogie Bottom Lane. Looks like it was taken before the "No Trespassing" signs went up. I guess you talked to the folks in some of those neighboring trailers.
Thank you for your patience. I still hope you get to talk to him at some point.
Another Twist in the Tale
I was less than forthcoming to PP with that apparent concession that McGraw lives in Linden and has lived there, as PP says, for the last two years. A third researcher, a lawyer with whom I have been in contact for a number of years, discovered the online court records. She did not leave matters at that, though. She did a property search to see who lives at that address. It is not John McGraw, but apparently a man and wife of the same last name as one another, which isn’t anything close to “McGraw.” To further confirm that they are the residents at that address, she called 411 and got their telephone number.
It now looks very much like PP was bluffing—as he did with his very first response to me—when he said that he had seen McGraw’s house in Linden and spoken to his neighbors. More than likely he used information about McGraw’s activities from the Hendersonville newspaper article. He didn’t get back to me and say that the mobile home we see in the Boogie Bottom Lane picture is not McGraw’s residence, but we know that it is not. It is just the residence of record that McGraw gave when he was arrested. My lawyer contact also found a record of McGraw’s arrest in Raleigh for “public swearing” and drunkenness, which now appears to have been taken down. At that time he gave a specific Raleigh address as his residence. Our best guess is that those are the homes of people whose names are in McGraw’s address book, people with whom he might stay when he makes his gun show appearances.
Continuing her digging, the lawyer also found a contemporary address for McGraw in Lufkin, Texas. This is clearly the same person as the one in Galax, Virginia. He is the same age and he has the same list of previous home residences in North Carolina, none of which are in or near Linden, as well as Galax.
The web site heavy.com has an article entitled “John McGraw: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.” It is good as far as it goes. As it turns out, two anonymous commenters on the article, both of whom claim to know McGraw, supply a lot more interesting information about the man than the article does, though. The first tells us things about him that are completely consistent with what is in the Hendersonville newspaper article. The second alleges things about McGraw that could subject the poster to a serious libel suit if they have no foundation in fact.
Whatever the case, I think we have established the fact that Mr. McGraw has a more mysterious side than the simple local yokel, crazy about Donald Trump, that the press has painted for us. I think he fits the CIA-stringer profile a good deal better.
Another lesson we have learned is that the American press is not to be trusted, from the biggest to the smallest news organs. But you knew that already, didn’t you?
March 29, 2016
What can I say? I stand corrected. I should have checked the Fayetteville Observer one last time before I posted my article. I have just received an email from a reader who provided a link to the March 25 article that was based upon the reporter Michael Futch’s interview of McGraw. The interview clarifies the picture considerably and reconciles most of the apparently conflicting evidence that I had collected. The guy, as it turns out, is something like an Old West drifter, living in a camper, with no radio or television, and probably without a telephone, either. He may be a “resident” of Linden for now, but he is very loosely rooted there. In the interview he talks of going up to Virginia when the weather turns warmer. That would doubtless be to the mountain town of Galax. The Boogie Bottom Lane address he gave must be the nearest one to where his camper is parked.
He also sounds like he’s not all that stable. Perhaps his days as a boxer have left him with some residual CTE effects. I think now that my suspicion of him as someone else’s agent is not correct. Neither, as it turns out, was my suspicion of the reporter well founded. He did, in fact, deliver the goods and conduct a fair and informative interview, putting a human face on a person who had come across as something of a cartoon character. Mr. Futch is also to be credited for saying that McGraw delivered his blow with “a forearm or elbow.” He may be the only one in the press who has gotten that right. To the newspaper’s credit, the headline it chose for the article, “Trump rally assault: Linden man denies punch was racially motivated” well captures the most important point made by McGraw in the interview while going against the grain of the picture that has been painted of the incident nationally. It’s too bad that it is unlikely to be widely read. Now if they’d just get up to speed reporting on their nearby major alien smuggler….
April 2, 2016