During a Donald Trump rally on Monday in Virginia, a Time magazine photographer was taking photos of a group of Black Lives Matter protesters that had interrupted the rally. Without any warning, Chris Morris was grabbed from behind, slammed to the ground, and choked by a Secret Service agent working at the rally.
Presumably, the reason why Morris was attacked was because he had taken a couple steps (eighteen inches) outside of the “designated press area.” However, as Carlos Miller points out in a post on Photography Is Not A Crime (PINAC), the job of the Secret Service is simply to protect candidates, not to dictate the behavior of media covering events. The photographer is pretty clearly not in any way threatening anyone, let alone Donald Trump. He was also not even the only member of the media within the area where he was attacked.
It’s getting to the point that on a daily basis there is a new report of Trump staff and/or attendees having attacked (often literally) someone who has dared to criticize their beloved fearmonger. And whether Trump himself is personally racist or is simply pandering to the lowest (and most disgusting) common denominator for votes, these attacks are becoming more and more race based as his campaign attracts that demographic. In one of the most blatant instances, in December at a Trump rally held in Las Vegas some of his supporters were caught on video yelling “white power” and “sieg heil” as a Black Lives Matter protester was being removed. There’s nothing ambiguous about either of those phrases.
While this particular incident was not racially based, it highlights yet another disturbing aspect of Trump’s increasingly neo-fascist rhetoric. The fact that a member of the media simply performing their job was attacked and then briefly threatened with arrest as a result of having been attacked is itself a troubling trend. Trump is the only candidate who has created an enclosed area that media are restricted to during campaign events. He also has himself called for increased legal restrictions on the press and the easing of protections against lawsuits by public figures against the media.
When a campaign is appealing to and even courting the support of nationalists and outright racists, advocating for ethnically and religiously based databases and restrictions, and attempting to limit the ability of people to criticize it, it’s not incredibly hard to figure out where those train tracks are headed should that campaign be successful.