A member of the United States Secret Service attacked a Time magazine photographer at a Donald Trump rally, grabbing his neck and slamming him to the ground.
Chris Morris, who has been on contract with Time since 1990, was covering the protests at the Republican presidential frontrunner’s campaign event on Monday at Radford University in Radford, Va.,
“I stepped 18 inches out of the pen and he grabbed me by the neck and started choking me. Then he slammed me to the ground,” Morris told CNN reporter Jim Acosta onsite.
This is how reporters are treated at Trump rallies pic.twitter.com/hMxuEoKVeG— Gabby Morrongiello (@gabriellahope_)February 29, 2016
Washington Examiner reporter Gabby Morrongiello, who shot video of the incident, explained that members in the press pen were trying to record a group of African-American students who were protesting Trump by standing together with interlocked hands.
Morris was trying to get closer to the railing of the press pen to snap better photos because members of the media are not allowed outside the pen at Trump’s rallies, she explained.
“A Secret Service agent told him to get back even though he wasn’t trying to exit the press pen,” Morrongiello said in an interview with Yahoo News.
After Morris said, “F*** you,” she explained, the Secret Service agent grabbed the photographer’s throat and threw him to the ground, at which point Morris started kicking.
In another video, Morris can be seen holding his hands to the agent’s throat to demonstrate what had been done to him. Some have taken this out of context to portray Morris as the aggressor.
Secret Service agent choke slams reporter pic.twitter.com/jdsHOlylSB— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone)February 29, 2016
Morrongiello spent a month in New Hampshire leading up to the primary, and has been continuously dismayed by the campaign’s treatment of the press.
“I can’t say that I’m surprised, because of the way members of the media have been treated by the Trump campaign before,” she said. “It was at his rally where you have this huge animosity for members of the media. Just seconds before that altercation before, Donald Trump was telling all of the voters in this crowd that he wanted to loosen libel laws and make it easier for him to sue reporters.”
Morris told WSET reporter Annie Anderson that he was originally arrested after the incident but wound up just being detained.
Following the incident, Time contacted the Secret Service to convey its concern about the level and nature of the agent’s response to Morris, who expressed remorse for his part in escalating the conflict.
“We are relieved that Chris is feeling OK, and we expect him to be back at work soon,“ a Time spokesperson said.
The Secret Service released a statement confirming that one of its employees was involved in the scuffle.
“The Secret Service is aware of an incident involving an employee of the Secret Service that occurred earlier today in Radford, VA. At this time, our local field office is working with their law enforcement partners to determine the exact circumstances that led up to this incident. The Secret Service will provide further details as warranted once additional facts surrounding the situation are known,” it reads.
The Trump campaign released the following 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.”
A Radford University student recorded footage of the choke-slam. (Photo:cchorniak/Instagram)