Georgia Senator David Perdue has created a new controversy in Georgia politics after he attempted to avoid a college student’s question by ripping the student’s cellphone out of his hand in the midst of a video recording.
The incident was reported in The Huffington Post where an amateur cellphone video of the incident was also posted.
The conservative Republican senator was at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta on Saturday campaigning for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. While walking on campus he was approached by a member of the school’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter.
The student asked the senator about tens of thousands of voter registrations that Kemp is refusing to process based on technicalities. Kemp is the current Georgia Secretary of State and his actions have been considered racist and highly inappropriate.
In the video the Georgia Tech student is heard asking Perdue a question, but he’s cut off before being allowed to finish.
“How can you endorse a candidate …” the student said, at which time Perdue grabbed the cellphone from his hand and refused to answer his question.
“You stole my property, you stole my property,” he says.
Perdue responds, “You wanted a picture?”
“Give me my phone back, senator,” the student says.
Perdue immediately gave the phone back and kept walking.
In a statement to the Washington Post Perdue spokeswoman Casey Black said, “The senator clearly thought he was being asked to take a picture, and he went to take a selfie as he often does. When he realized they didn’t actually want to take a picture, he gave the phone back.”
However, the Young Democratic Socialists of America at Georgia Tech were not so easily mollified. They issued their own statement, lashing out at the Georgia senator.
“Senator Perdue will quickly endorse racists for the governorship, but ask him why and he’ll steal your phone,” the group said in a statement posted on Facebook. “He’s a coward who’s afraid to answer questions from students, citizens, and constituents.”
Kemp and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams — who is African American — are locked in a close battle for the state’s governorship. Last week Abrams accused Kemp of refusing to certify 53,000 voter registration applications to “suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters — the majority of them people of color.”
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has filed a lawsuit against Kemp seeking to overturn Kemp’s position on the uncertified applications.