It’s not every day that a senator snatches a cell phone out of someone’s hands.
But on Saturday, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), did exactly that, according to video posted of the encounter and accounts from individuals at the scene.
Perdue was on the campus of Georgia Tech to campaign for Republican gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp, who has come under fire this past week following a report that some 53,000 voter registrations were on hold, nearly 70 percent of which reportedly belonged to African-American voters. Kemp is also currently Georgia’s Secretary of State and is in a close, nationally-watched race against Stacey Abrams, an African-American woman who was the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives.
In a video posted by the Georgia Tech chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, the individual filming is heard saying “Hey, so, uh, how can you endorse a candidate—” at which point the phone appears to be taken and the camera seems to briefly flip upside down.
“No, I’m not doing that. I’m not doing that,” Sen. Perdue is heard saying in response in the video.
“You stole my property,” the student filming responds.
“You wanted, a picture? You wanted a picture? I’m gonna give it you,” Perdue is heard saying back.
“Give me my phone back senator,” the student says before getting the phone back and turning the camera right side up. As Perdue walks away, the student narrating says: “That’s U.S. Senator David Perdue. U.S. Senator David Perdue just snatched my phone because he won’t answer a question from one of his constituents. 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.”
The 29-second clip ends there after the student briefly followed Perdue.
In a statement sent to The Daily Beast from the YDSA chapter, the group said: “Perdue walked into Georgia Tech’s backyard, and students aren’t allowed to ask him a simple question? It would be one thing to say “no comment” or inform us he’s not taking questions. Perdue would have been within his legal rights to simply walk away or decline the question. But instead, he forcibly, suddenly, and violently took their phone without justification or provocation.”
They added that the individual, who did not want to be interviewed or named for fear of retaliation, was considering taking further action by filing a police report with campus police.
“In the video, Perdue stated, “No, I’m not doing that” just before snatching the student’s phone. It’s clear that Perdue suddenly snatched the phone with the intent to temporarily deprive the student of their property so that they could not continue to record him,” the statement continued.
“Had the situation today been the other way around, and if the Georgia Tech student had snatched a sitting US Senator’s phone, the student would likely have been arrested on the spot. This behavior is shocking, appalling, and totally unbecoming of the supposedly hallowed office of US Senator.”
Another member of the YDSA chapter with whom The Daily Beast spoke, who also wished to remain anonymous, said that Sen. Perdue handed the phone back 10-15 seconds later after they attempted to ask a question.
“We both tried grabbing the phone from his hand but he dodged us both,” this individual told The Daily Beast.
A spokesperson for Perdue’s Senate office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast about the brief incident.