David Perdue, a Republican senator from Georgia, snatched a student’s cellphone from a Georgia Tech student after he was questioned about the state’s plans to suppress minority voter registration. The student’s video was first reported by legal news site, Law and Crime and uncovers the entire interaction.
The student belonged to Georgia Tech’s Young Democratic Socialists of America (YSDA) and was attempting to record his questioning of the Georgia senator. Perdue was on the Atlanta campus to support Brian Kemp, the current Georgia secretary of state running in a gubernatorial race against former lawmaker and Dem. Candidate Stacey Abrams.
“No, I’m not doing that. I’m not doing that,” the senator can be heard affirming as he snatches the student’s cellphone. The recording continues as the student seems vexed that his phone was taken. He saying repeatedly, “You stole my property, you stole my property.”
The senator simply asks him rhetorically, “All right, you wanted a picture?”. The student, who is yet to be identified, continues to ask the senator to give his phone back.
“That’s when U.S. Sen. David Perdue just snatched my phone because he won’t answer a question from one of his constituents, “the student said while pursuing Purdue.
“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.”
Following the release of the unnamed student’s video, Purdue’s team offered their defense and affirmed that this was a misunderstanding.
His spokesperson said in a statement obtained by the Washington Examiner:
“Senator Perdue spent several hours meeting with hundreds of people at the Georgia Tech game this weekend. The Senator spoke with many students and answered questions on a variety of topics. In this instance, 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 YSA group at Georgia Tech didn’t share a similar viewpoint, and issued a statement on Twitter expressing their disapproval of the Senator’s actions:
“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.”
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 https://t.co/pCoRFAFAdh
— YDSA (@YDSA_) October 13, 2018
The organization told Law and Crime that they may consider taking legal action against the senator for “forcibly, suddenly, and violently [taking the phone] without justification or provocation”.
Although Purdue is not running for re-election himself, he had been playing a key role in the campaigns of other Georgian republican candidates such as Brian Kemp, whose race in the upcoming midterm election will prove vital. Kemp is currently being sued by the Georgia-state NAACP following a report that over 53,000 voter applications, primarily from black voters, have been put on hold just weeks before the midterm general elections.
Purdue’s recent conduct may influence an already delicate situation for the GOP campaign in Georgia.