Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Response to Getting Ugly Out There

(See: Just Above Sunset: Getting Ugly Out There)

First, there's this scuffle between a TIME photographer and the Secret Service agent at a Trump rally in Virginia:
Christopher Morris, a photographer for TIME magazine, was attempting to leave the press section to photograph the Black Lives Matter protesters when he was “thrown to the ground in a choke hold,” TIME said, by a Secret Service agent.
And secondly, there's that Trump rally in Valdosta last night:
About 30 black students who were standing silently at the top of the bleachers at Donald Trump’s rally here Monday night were escorted out by Secret Service agents who said the presidential candidate had requested their removal before he began speaking. ... 
“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 University students who was removed. “They said, ‘This is Trump’s property; it’s a private event.’ But I paid my tuition to be here.”
What I really find disturbing is that nobody seems to be questioning the role of Secret Service agents in Trump's campaign.

I remember back in 1968, shortly after the assassination of Robert Kennedy, when it was first decided to assign them to presidential candidates, but it was simply to protect the candidate himself, not to act as ushers or security at his campaign appearances -- something Donald Trump can afford to pay for himself without resorting to the "public teat".

But before going on, I must admit I looked further into these two incidents, and found that USA Today has since updated its story with the information that the "escorts" in Valdosta were not Secret Service, but apparently private security hired by the "host committee", which was presumably "hosting" Trump's visit, along with help of the Valdosta police.

But according to TIME Magazine, the photographer incident, apparently, did involve USSS agents:
Unlike other presidential campaigns, which generally allow reporters and photographers to move around at events, Trump has a strict policy requiring reporters and cameramen to stay inside a gated area, which the candidate often singles out for ridicule during his speeches. 
The entrance to the penned area is generally monitored by the Secret Service detail, which also screens attendees at his events and personally protects the candidate.
The TIME photographer, Chris Morris, ordinarily works at the White House:
“I’ve worked for nine years at the White House and have never had an altercation with the Secret Service,” Morris says in a statement. “What happened today was very unfortunate and unexpected. The rules at Trump events are significantly stricter than other campaigns and make it very difficult to work as a photographer, as many others have pointed out before me. I regret my role in the confrontation, but the agent’s response was disproportionate and unnecessarily violent. I hope this incident helps call attention to the challenges of press access.”
In fact, TIME admits that Morris...
...stepped out of the press pen to photograph a Black Lives Matter protest that interrupted the speech. A video shows that Morris swore at a Secret Service agent who tried to move Morris back into the pen. A separate video of the event shows that the agent then grabbed Morris’ neck with both hands and threw him into a table and onto the ground.
I may be wrong, but I bet the unnamed agent will be ruled out of line after his bosses look into the incident, but my question is, is anybody else looking into USSS agents "moonlighting" as security for political candidate campaigns?

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