A group of Black students at a Donald Trump rally at Valdosta State University was escorted out of the rally for no apparent reason, according to several news reports.
The group, which included about 30 Black students, stood silently at the top of the bleachers at the Monday event.
“We didn’t plan to do anything,” said a tearful Tahjila Davis, a 19-year-old mass media major, who was among the Valdosta State students who were removed. “They said, ‘This is Trump’s property; it’s a private event.’ But I paid my tuition to be here.”
The Trump campaign made a stop in the red state for the upcoming Super Tuesday. Black students who were just standing in silence were not protesters and did not intend to draw attention to themselves.
Over the course of Trump’s campaign, the Republican presidential candidate has incited violence at his rallies when protesters showed up. Last year, a Black Lives Matter activist was attacked — punched, kicked and verbally abused — at a rally. Yesterday, a veteran Time Magazine photographer was choked and slammed to the ground.
Both incidents were caught on video, which has since gone viral.
Earlier Monday, according to USA Today, some Black students at a Trump campaign rally, on the campus of Radford University in Virginia, were led out by Secret Service after they began chanting: “No more hate! No more hate! Let’s be equal, let’s be great!”
A spokesperson for the Trump camp denied any knowledge of the Valdosta students’ removal.
Spokeswoman Hope Hicks wrote in an email late Monday night about the incident responding to the removal of the students “at the request of the candidate.”
“There is no truth to this whatsoever,” Hicks said, adding that “the campaign had no knowledge of this incident.”
Students at the event were distraught after being forced out and the campaign continues to deny any allegations.
“I don’t understand why they would do something like that,” Davis said. “I have not experienced any racism on this campus until now.”
Trump’s speeches have incited overt racism from the extremes of the Republican base at his rallies. In addition to the many documented cases of violence, he has yet to disavow former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke and has association with other white supremacist organizations.
Valdosta State student Brooke Gladney said they were ushered out en masse by officials who told them it was a private event.
“The only reason we were given was that Mr. Trump did not want us there,” Gladney said.