Today @sendavidperdue visited Tech to campaign for Kemp. A student tried asking a simple question about @BrianKempGA ‘s racist scheme to threaten voter registrations from black people, but before he could even finish the question, Perdue stole his phone. pic.twitter.com/K0iffU57Di
— YDSA Georgia Tech (@YDSAGT) October 13, 2018
U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) ripped a phone out of a constituent’s hand late Saturday morning as the constituent was recording their encounter.
The Republican senator was being asked a question about Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp‘s widely-reported attempts to purge the voter registrations of thousands of black voters in the Peach State. Kemp is currently running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams.
Perdue was on the Georgia Tech campus on Saturday to campaign for Kemp. A student and member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) began to ask a question about Kemp’s alleged disenfranchisement scheme.
In an interview with Law&Crime, the student asked not to be named out fear of retaliation and doxxing. The student clarified that he wasn’t particularly worried about retribution from Perdue’s official camp but expressed concern that Perdue’s fellow travelers would “sic the mobs” on him and go after his livelihood.
“Given what happened in New York City on Friday night, we’re seeing the development of fascism in America,” the student said, in reference to Pro-Trump gangs of “Proud Boys” beating people on the streets while the NYPD apparently did nothing. “The GOP knows they can’t win in debate or civil discourse so they’ll resort to violence and repression of dissidents.”
As the video begins, the student says, “How can you endorse a candidate that–” but before he finishes his question, Perdue says, “No, I’m not doing that. I’m not doing that.” The senator then appears to make contact with the student and apparently snatches his phone away from him as the phone’s camera films the entire encounter.
The student calmly notes, “You stole my property. You stole my property. Give me my phone back, senator.” Perdue replies, “Alright, you wanted a picture? You wanted a picture? I’m gonna give it to you. You wanted a picture?”
The whole ordeal takes roughly 10-12 seconds and the phone is quickly returned to the student, who says “thanks” before announcing:
That’s U.S. Senator David Perdue. U.S. Senator David Perdue just snatched my phone because he won’t answer a question from one of his constituents. He’s trying to leave. He’s trying to leave because he won’t answer why he’s endorsing a candidate who’s trying to purge people from voting on the basis of their race.
In a statement, the YDSA branch of Georgia Tech criticized the sitting senator for his actions against the student. They wrote “It’s abhorrent that when our members ask their senators about the purging of voters within their state, they respond by stealing their phones, dismissing dissent, and ultimately prove that curbing of democracy is how they make capital stay in power.”
Law&Crime reached out to Georgia Tech YDSA for comment on this story. In a statement, the group said they were considering filing criminal charges against Perdue over the incident. The statement notes:
It’s clear that Perdue suddenly snatched the phone with the intent to temporarily deprive the student of their property so that they could not continue to record him. The video cuts briefly for a few seconds when Perdue accidentally stopped and restarted the recording, during which time Perdue hid the phone behind his back while the student demanded their phone be returned. It is our belief, and the belief of the student, that Perdue committed the Georgia crimes of Theft by taking and Robbery. The student is considering filing a police report with campus police.
The democratic socialist group also point the apparent incongruity of Perdue campaigning on the Georgia Tech campus and then treating a student in the manner caught on the video.
“Perdue walked into Georgia Tech’s backyard, and students aren’t allowed to ask him a simple question? It would be one thing to say ‘no comment’ or inform us he’s not taking questions,” the statement notes. “Perdue would have been within his legal rights to simply walk away or decline the question. But instead, he forcibly, suddenly, and violently took their phone without justification or provocation.”
Law&Crime reached out to Senator Perdue’s office but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
[image via screengrab]
Editor’s note: this story has been amended post-publication for accuracy, and to include a link regarding Kemp’s voter purge, a statement from Georgia Tech YDSA and comments from the student in the video.