There's already a certain base level of ugly behavior expected at a Trump event, but things hit a frightening new low Monday at a Donald Trump rally when a photographer appeared to be assaulted by a Secret Service agent according to video footage. Footage of Time photographer Chris Morris appearing to be "choke-slammed," according to Independent Journal reporter Joe Petricone by a Secret Service agent with the Trump campaign at a rally at Radford University in Virginia has already gone viral on Twitter. Shots show Morris appearing to be attacked and then kicking off the agent, with many on the web trying to decipher how the altercation escalated so quickly.
Morris told CNN's Jim Acosta, "I stepped 18 inches out of the pen and he grabbed me by the neck and started choking me and then he slammed me to the ground." There is video of Morris saying "fuck you" to the agent before the altercation, which he also confirmed to CBS News. The Trump campaign has already released a statement: “There was an incident involving a photographer and a USSS agent at today’s Radford University Trump rally. We are not aware of all details surrounding the incident and all future inquiries should be directed to local law enforcement." The Secret Service also released a statement:
While some reports have framed Morris as the instigator, many reporters at the Trump event at Radford University have spoken out on Morris' behalf. Perticone criticized a Breitbart account of the incident that placed Morris as the aggressor, tweeting:
Perticone and other members of the media have shared video of the incident:
One of the clearest — and most terrifying —shots of the incident currently available was in this clips saved from a now-deleted Instagram video:
As that clip shows, tensions were already high at the Trump event — yes, even in addition to the alleged Secret Service attack. Perticone tweeted, "This Trump rally in Radford, Va. has been interrupted by protestors (who have been escorted out) 7 times this rally. Thats more than usual." CBS News reported that 30-40 Black Lives Matter protesters had been interrupting Trump's speech. Unsurprisingly, Trump had little patience for them, referencing a time two black female protesters interrupted Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and took over the microphone and saying, "That's not happening here. Disgusting."
According to the CBS News report and footage of the incident (included below) Trump also asked one protester, "Are you from Mexico? Are you from Mexico?" several times, and then said "All right, darling, if you want, you can stay and hear the end of the story, because you know what? You're moving back to the United States."
As video of the event showed, Trump later said, "Get 'em out of here, please," against audible boos. He added, "Trouble. They're nothing but trouble."