About 30 students had planned to sit in silent protest during the rally on the Valdosta State University campus, but police said they were directed to remove them at the specific request of a Trump staffer.
“A member of the [Trump] event staff approached a member of our agency and requested that the group be asked to leave,” Capt. Stryde Jones, a Lowndes County Sheriff’s officer, told the network.
Another member of local law enforcement who worked the event backed up Jones’ account.
“I spoke to a Trump staffer, whose name I do not have, she told us that they needed to leave,” Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress told MSNBC. “Not only did I talk to a Trump staffer, so did the University police, and we were told over the radio by the Sheriff’s office that Trump staff wanted them out.”
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement the campaign had no knowledge of the incident “until after reading these false reports.”
A TPM request to the campaign for further comment was not immediately returned Friday morning.
Accounts differ on why the students were ejected from the event, but Childress told Time magazine they were “shouting profanity.”
Trump’s events are routinely punctuated by protesters being dragged out, often with the Republican frontrunner cheering their removal. On Monday, a Secret Service agent slammed a Time photographer to the ground after he left the press pen at an event in Virginia. Two days later, an avowed white nationalist took credit for shoving a black protester at a rally in Kentucky.