After a U.S. Secret Service agent was videotaped throwing TIME photographer Chris Morris to the floor in a chokehold during a Donald Trump rally in Radford, Virginia, yesterday, the Secret Service issued a statement saying that its field office is investigating the incident. TIME has also issued a statement saying that it had contacted the Secret Service “to express concerns about the level and nature of the agent’s response.” According to TIME, Morris has “expressed remorse for his part in escalating the confrontation.” Video had captured the photographer swearing in the agent’s ear just before he grabbed Morris.
TIME Responds to Confrontation With Secret Service at Trump Event
TIME issued the statement after videos circulated showing Black Lives Matter protesters moving through the crowd at the Trump rally.
One video, taken a few feet from Morris and posted on Twitter by Joe Perticone of Independent Journal, shows Morris leaning forward and saying into the agent’s ear, “Fuck you. Fuck you.” The agent says “What?” then reaches for Morris. In another video, showing the full auditorium, Morris is seen standing near a pen with other photographers in the middle of the crowd, speaking to an agent. The agent can then be seen grabbing Morris’s throat and throwing him to the floor. Once Morris was on the floor, he tried to kick the agent away, saying, “Don’t touch me.” Moments later, he demonstrated how the agent had choked him by putting his hands on the agent’s throat. Morris was escorted out of the auditorium and, according to TIME, detained by local law enforcement. He was released later in the day.
A TIME spokesperson said, “We are relieved that Chris is feeling OK, and we expect him to be back at work soon.”
Some news stories originally reported that a member of Trump’s security, not a Secret Service agent, had thrown Morris down.
An article posted today on TIME Lightbox notes that “unlike other presidential campaigns, which generally allow reporters and photographers to move around at events, Trump has a strict policy requires reporters and cameramen to stay inside a gated area, which the candidate often singles out for ridicule.” Morris was near the entrance to the pen when the Secret Service agent first confronted him.
The journalism site Poynter today posted an article noting that during campaign events, Trump incites crowds to boo pool photographers and camera people after they refuse his demand that they turn their cameras away from the stage and pan the crowd, something pool photographers (responsible for covering the stage) can’t do. TV cameraman Grant Hansen told Poynter, “He rallied the crowd against us. It was frustrating, but I’m there to do my job just as he is there to do his.”
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