Donald Trump, current favorite to win the Republican nomination for president, is once again being accused of racism and bigotry after 30 black students were ejected from his campaign rally in Valdosta, Georgia on Monday.
At The Root, Steven A. Crockett reported, "Secret Service agents, per Trump’s request, escorted about 30 black students out of a Trump rally at Valdosta State University in Georgia because, apparently, their presence at his event made him uncomfortable. Didn’t matter that they were students at the school where he was speaking or that if elected president, he would also be their president, too. Or, that until 1963, the university was a whites-only campus."
"I think we got kicked out because we're a group of black people," said a tearful student in an interview with USA Today. "I guess...they're afraid we're going to say something or do something, but we just really wanted to watch the rally."
Onlookers tweeted video footage of the incident:
VSU students being kicked out for absolutely NO reason before Donald Trump makes his presence. pic.twitter.com/bOwnwvCkuN
— High OCT8NE. (@UGWavy__) February 29, 2016
Video from inside Trump rally of students led out from bleachers. Courtesy Kiebbler Carter, 22, who wasn't removed. pic.twitter.com/Ubmjq492DL
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) March 1, 2016
"They said, 'This is Trump’s property; it’s a private event.' But I paid my tuition to be here," a student told the newspaper.
The real estate mogul's campaign made further headlines on Monday for a Secret Service member's violent tackling of a TIME photographer at a separate rally in Virginia.
The photographer, Chris Morris, had stepped outside of a designated press pen in order to photograph Black Lives Matter protesters, Morris told CNN. TIME published a GIF of the incident, in which Morris can be seen being choked and slammed into a table:
The Trump campaign denied responsibility for both events, in separate statements to USA Today and CNN.
The mass-removal of black students and tackling of the TIME photographer took place only a day after Trump refused to disavow former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who endorsed Trump's candidacy over the weekend.
"Donald Trump’s statements this morning are just the latest in a string of incidents where he has used his massive media presence, especially his Twitter account with over 6 million followers, to elevate extremist ideas and individuals," said Southern Poverty Law Center's Heidi Beirich in a response to Trump's reluctance to distance himself from the KKK.
Beirich continued, "Despite being called out by journalists and organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, these incidents continue. Condemning David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan at every opportunity should be the easiest thing anyone can do. The hatefulness of their ideas and actions are well-established and should be denounced forcefully by all responsible political leaders."
Commentators have also drawn a connection between Trump's racist attitudes toward minorities, such as his calls to "build a wall" between the U.S. and Mexico and his condemnation of all American Muslims, and the discovery that Trump's father, Fred Trump, was arrested at a KKK rally in 1927. The technology blog Boing Boing uncovered the family link last September.
And despite events such as these and the desperate efforts of Republican Party insiders to keep him from taking the nomination, Trump continues to maintain a comfortable lead in the polls for nearly all states holding primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday.