NYU Prof Alleges She And Her Students Were Racially Profiled At Rubio Rally

February 8, 2016 5:23 p.m.

A New York University journalism professor alleges she and two of her students were racially profiled by staffers for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’s campaign at a Sunday rally in New Hampshire.

Yvonne Latty, who is black, told TPM in a phone interview Monday that she visited several presidential candidates’ campaign events over the course of the weekend with her graduate students. But she characterized Rubio’s rally as an “extremely negative” experience of “blatant” racial profiling.

She said that two of her graduate students, who are also black, didn’t have press credentials but gained general admission to the town hall event. After the students took out a handheld camera and were preparing the best angle to film Rubio speaking, Latty said a campaign staffer approached them and told them to put away the equipment. Other rally attendees were filming with phones and large cameras as well, she said.

The same staffer returned and repeated his demands even after the students put away their equipment, according to Latty.

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“It’s clear to them that they were singled out because they were black,” Latty told TPM. “They were the only black people in the room.”

By contrast, Latty said a white student from her group was able to stand with the media, despite not having a credential, and was able to film without repercussions.

“She wasn’t allowed to shoot b-roll because she was a black woman,” Latty said of the student who was told to put away her camera. “That’s pretty much it in a nut shell. You had to be white to shoot b-roll.”

Latty said she had trouble getting into the event because she didn’t have a press pass in her name. She said Rubio’s staff refused to let her enter with a media credential from one of her white colleagues and she ultimately had to go “up the chain of command” to gain access.

As she stood near the press, Latty said the same campaign staffer who talked to her students “made a beeline” toward her and questioned what media company she worked for.

“It was only to me,” she recalled.

Following her experience and after hearing from her students, who she said were crying, about what happened to them, Latty complained to a Rubio campaign staffer overseeing the press. The staffer apologized, she said.

The Rubio campaign did not immediately return multiple requests for comment from TPM on Monday.

But Michael Zona, Rubio’s New Hampshire communications director, chalked the incident up to a miscommunication about credentials. He told Wired that he would “have to gather more information about the situation” when asked why the students were approached by a staffer a second time after putting away their equipment.

Latty told TPM the experience was particularly hurtful for her and her students because they’re the children of immigrants and felt that they were “treated like second-class citizens.”

“I didn’t have any issues at all with Marco Rubio. I wasn’t there to criticize him or judge him,” she said. “After this, I feel like he’s a phony. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. Being an immigrant, being a child of Cuban immigrants and he’s going to do this to students of color. He sets the tone of how his workers respond.”

Latty also tweeted about her experience on Sunday:

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