Amid Protests, A Secret Service-Media Tussle At Trump Rally

Protesters are escorted out of a rally for Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump at Radford University in Radford, Va., Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Protesters are escorted out of a rally for Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump at Radford University in Radford, Va., Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RADFORD, Va. — A raucous and protest-ridden Donald Trump rally on the eve of Super Tuesday featured a verbal and physical altercation between a news media photographer and a Secret Service agent, complete with profanity, a choke hold and a body slam.

Chris Morris, the photographer who is contracted to cover the campaign for TIME, was escorted out of the tense rally amid an anti-Trump protest, and detained before being released. The Secret Service says it is investigating "the exact circumstances." The agent has not been identified.

Trump's hour-long speech at Radford was interrupted multiple times by protesters — some individual, others acting in groups. Videos of the incident taken by reporters and attendees show Morris attempting to secure a better position to photograph some of the many protesters kicked out of Trump's Radford event. Rebuffed, Morris is heard cursing at the agent, who then grabs Morris and takes him to the ground.

Seconds later, Morris touched the agent to demonstrate his version of what happened. He was then escorted out.

Trump's campaign says it is not aware of all the details surrounding the incident.

Aides to the GOP presidential front-runner, who engaged Monday in his characteristic mockery of both protesters and the press, say the Trump campaign knows nothing of the details, and the widespread tensions did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of Trump supporters ahead of Tuesday's primary slate that could give the billionaire businessman an prohibitive delegate lead over his top rivals.

Trump did not acknowledge the scuffle as it happened, and it's not clear whether he noticed at all, although at several other points throughout his one-hour speech, he commented directly on protesters.

"Are you from Mexico?" he asked one who protested his talk of building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

He mocked another, saying: "Are you protesting, darling? Get 'em outta here. Get 'em outta here."

TIME released a statement Monday saying it has "contacted the U.S. Secret Service to express concerns about the level and nature of the agent's response," adding that Morris has expressed remorse "for his part in escalating the confrontation."

The news organization also noted that "Trump has a strict policy requiring reporters and cameramen to stay inside a gated area, which the candidate often singles out for ridicule during his speeches."

By BILL BARROW - Feb. 29, 2016 5:11 PM EST AP

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Associated Press reporters Alicia Caldwell in Washington and Jill Colvin in Valdosta, Georgia, contributed.

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Follow Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP .

 
 

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