A photographer was choked and slammed to the ground by a security guard at a Donald Trump rally in Radford, Virginia, this afternoon. Trump's campaign says the guard is part of the US Secret Service.
The photographer, Christopher Morris, a contract photographer for Time, told reporters afterward that he had tried to step "18 inches" out of the designated press area when he was choked and slammed to the ground. This Instagram video — which was recording a nearby protest — shows the full altercation (watch the lower right-hand corner):
So I went to the #Trump rally today. I went with an open mind, hoping to hear his ideas on how he would handle the country if he were president. Instead, I listened to him slander other running candidates and the press. In all, I'd say my perception of Trump hasn't changed. If anything I feel more confident to say #dumptrump In honor of the insane amount of hatred in this mans campaign, here's a video I got of two suited men beating each other up during the rally #makeamericahateagain
The confrontation started when Morris got into an argument with the security guard, telling him, "Fuck you":
Here's moments prior. The reporter says "f*ck you" — that's when it got physical pic.twitter.com/h9K2wIbEWQ— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) February 29, 2016
After he got up, Morris briefly grabbed the security guard's neck, apparently to demonstrate what the guard had done to him:
Secret Service agent choke slams reporter pic.twitter.com/jdsHOlylSB— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) February 29, 2016
Trump hates the media, and his rallies have a history of violence
The Trump campaign put out a brief statement saying the guard involved was a Secret Service agent and it was "not aware" of any additional details. The Secret Service hasn't yet commented on the incident.
But Trump's campaign rallies have a disturbing history of actual and threatened violence against protesters. (Matt Taibbi reported in Rolling Stone that supporters are instructed to surround protesters, yell "Trump! Trump! Trump!" and wait for security.)
- On February 23, Trump said he'd like to punch a protester in the face at a rally.
- In December, Trump supporters yelled, "Light the motherfucker on fire" to a Black Lives Matter protester at Las Vegas rally.
- In November, another Black Lives Matter protester was choked by Trump supporters at a rally.
- Security guards dragged a protester out of a Trump rally in Miami.
- In September, Trump supporters pulled a protester's hair.
And Trump — who wants to weaken protections for the media against libel suits, and who has had to specify that unlike Vladimir Putin, he would not want to kill journalists — routinely uses his podium at rallies to taunt the media, urging the crowd into booing members of the press:
Trump trashes press. Crowd jeers. Guy by press 'pen' looks at us & screams "you're a bitch!" Other gentleman gives cameras the double bird.— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) February 21, 2016
The violence against a photographer is evidence of those two trends coming together.