Yesterday, a group of black students was removed from a Trump rally at Valdosta State University in Georgia. The following is an edited transcript of what Mikey Sanders, a junior at Valdosta State who was one of the students kicked out of the rally, told me about the incident. Neither the school nor Trump’s campaign have responded to a request for comment. The Valdosta Police released a statement Wednesday denying the incident was racially motivated.
We were all there together, a group of classmates, about 40 or 50 of us. We all wanted to go and listen, we all wore black in solidarity. We got there, not making any noise, being very peaceful, because we knew if we had gone acting crazy they would get upset. So we said: let’s not draw attention to ourselves.
We didn’t sit down—some of us arrived at different times, and the place was packed, so we just went to the best area where we could see. We weren’t standing to make a statement.
And we all had tickets, which were being given out for free online. Here was mine:
But we were only there for a little while, and Trump hadn’t even arrived yet, before they decided they wanted us out. A police officer came over and told us we had to leave. He was joined by other officers. They said they couldn’t tell us why they were kicking us out until we left the building.
As they escorted us out, the rest of the crowd started screaming, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” It was very traumatizing—seeing some of our white classmates screaming at us while we were being escorted out… like, we all go to the same school, we all pay to go there. We started putting our fists up, like the black power sign, but it was very traumatizing.
They first took us to a very tight stairwell, where anything could have happened. Then they told us we couldn’t stay in the building, so they took us outside, even though we weren’t protesting—we didn’t have any signs, and weren’t making any noise. We were just being silent.
Once we got outside, they tried to say Trump wanted us out, that it was a private event that we had to have tickets for. We had all printed out our tickets, so when we showed them to them, they had to move on from that subject once they figured out that that lie wasn’t right. Basically, they just told us that Trump didn’t want us there, that he ordered us to leave. They ordered us all the way off the grounds before we could leave.
Seeing everyone scream at us and being hateful for no reason—we were very peaceful, never in my life been kicked out of a place—it felt as if we were back in the civil rights movement. Having all the blacks who had come together get kicked out, having everyone screaming at us, cheering as we left, they were happy that we were leaving, it was very scary.
Right now, we’re just trying to not feel hopeless, trying to stay strong. There have been countless other incidents in past that Valdosta State has swept under the rug, and this will likely be swept under the rug as well. All we can do now is just pray.
This post has been updated.