A group of students were ejected from a Trump rally in Georgia – ostensibly for being black and for no other reason. Monday night, a rally was held at the Valdosta State University, a public college that serves 11,000 students, located approximately 20 miles from the Florida state line. Over two dozen black students were escorted out by Secret Service – before Trump even took the stage.
Writes USA Today on March 1, via MSN News: “The sight of the students, who were visibly upset, being led outside by law enforcement officials created a stir at a university that was a whites-only campus until 1963.”
Security at the rally was being provided by various agencies – the Secret Service, the local Valdosta Police Department, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and Trump’s personal escorts – but no one seemed to know (or wanted to admit) where the eject order came from.
Trump’s staffers vigorously denied what many are citing as the reason – that Trump saw the group of 30 black students, silently standing together at the top of the bleachers, and assumed they would cause trouble.
In an email, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said there is no truth to the rumor that the students were shown the door “at the request of the candidate” or those associated with Trump’s campaign. “There is no truth to this whatsoever,” Hicks said, adding that “the campaign had no knowledge of this incident.”
Still, it’s hard to believe that local security would forcibly remove the group – before the rally even started – unless the students were creating a disturbance, or unless Trump or one of his staffers initiated or approved the removal of the students.
“We didn’t plan to do anything,” commented 19-year-old student Tahjila Davis. “They said, ‘This is Trump’s property; it’s a private event.’ But I paid my tuition to be here.” Student Brooke Gladney, 22, agreed, stating that Secret Service agents told them, “The only reason we were given was that Mr. Trump did not want us there,” Gladney said.
A Secret Service spokesperson however said that kicking out individuals from rallies is “not our function,” said Robert Hobak, adding that the ejection of protestors falls under the purview of Trump’s staffers and or local authorities. “This happens sometimes that people will confuse us with other law enforcement,” Hobak said.
Leah Sheppard, a 20-year-old criminal justice major, was seen crying outside of the rally.“I don’t understand why they would do something like that,” Davis said. “I have not experienced any racism on this campus until now.”
Adds CNN: “Kicking out anticipated protestors isn’t an uncommon practice for Trump events, but this was one of the largest groups so far in his campaign. It occurred hours after a Secret Service agent choke-slammed a Time magazine photographer attempted to capture images of #BlackLivesMatter protesters at an event in Virginia.”
The Secret Service said they “oversaw” the removal of the black students, but that local police are the ones that escorted them out. The students left the Trump rally peacefully.