Trump tomato tosser has no regrets

Man fined, pleads guilty to disorderly conduct

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City man who was arrested and fined for throwing two tomatoes at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Tuesday he’s do it again if he had the chance.

“Oh, yeah, absolutely,” said Andrew Alemao. “I’m more certain I made the right decision now than when I was standing there.”

Alemao, a 28-year-old restaurant worker from Cedar Falls with a history of civil disobedience — he was one of 11 people arrested in an anti-war sit-in at Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Cedar Rapids office in 2007 — said he had planned to protest Trump’s appearance at the University of Iowa Field House on Jan. 26, but the nature of that protest changed a couple days earlier.

When Trump said that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose voters, Alemao decided to take action.

“I think if you think you can tough talk like that, you should get a little heat,” Alemao said.

So Alemao, who was part of a larger group of protesters, sneaked two Roma tomatoes into the event. He took aim at Trump not long after the presidential candidate was presented with a jersey from a group of University of Iowa football players.

“He called Bernie Sanders a Communist and that was really all I needed,” he said. “I just remember feeling like I didn’t have a great shot and I ended up getting closer than I ever thought I would.”

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Alemao said he tried to make a quick exit but was quickly detained by Secret Service personnel and UI Police. After an interview with a Secret Service agent at UI Police headquarters, Alemao was taken to the Johnson County Jail on a charge of disorderly conduct, a simple misdemeanor.

He said the Secret Service agent was “nice,” and that he later drove to Cedar Falls to interview Alemao’s mother about her son and the incident.

He said people have impersonated him on social media, and someone on Twitter still is claiming to be him, he said.

On Monday, Alemao signed an agreement that saw him plead guilty to disorderly conduct and be fined $65 rather than face 30 days in jail and a potential fine of $650. The Johnson County Attorney’s Office agreed not to pursue assault charges against him, which Alemao said was a “huge relief.”

Alemao said he still has people approach him and ask if he’s “that guy” and admits that it makes him uncomfortable when people have called him a “hero.” He prefers to be thought of as a pioneer.

“I’d like to live in a country where Donald Trump can’t go anywhere without worrying about being pelted by produce,” he said.

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