Republican Senator David Perdue’s office is claiming that the Georgia representative was trying to take a selfie with a Georgia Tech student — not trying to snatch his phone — in retaliation for being questioned on his choice to endorse gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. The filmed altercation took place during a visit to campus Saturday, and has since gone viral.
The video shows the senator taking the student’s phone after being questioned on his endorsement for Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state who has made headlines for implementing a law that possibly violates civil rights.
“You stole my property, you stole my property,” the student, who wishes to remain anonymous out of fear for his safety, repeats after Sen. Perdue takes his phone.
The senator then asks the student, “Alright, you wanted a picture?” before handing the phone back and heading the opposite direction.
“That’s U.S. Senator David Perdue, U.S. Senator David Perdue just snatched by phone because he won’t answer a question from one of his constituents,” the student said. “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 law in question calls for election officials to halt voter registration applications if the voter’s information doesn’t match existing records. Of the 50,0000 people affected, 80 percent are black, Latino or Asian American, according a lawsuit filed against Kemp this month. The Associated Press recently reported that there are 53,000 people affected and 70 percent are black.
However, Kemp has recently said these people, listed as “pending” voters, can in fact vote Nov. 6.
Perdue’s office says the senator thought the student wanted a selfie, “something his constituents often ask of him.”
“He went to take a selfie, then realized he didn’t want the picture so he gave the phone back,” an office aide said. The spokesperson also did not apologize for what occurred on Saturday.
The student is part of the college’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter, which released a statement on the matter following the video’s mass attention.
Today @sendavidperdue visited Tech to campaign for Kemp. A student tried asking a simple question about @BrianKempGA 's racist scheme to threaten voter registrations from black people, but before he could even finish the question, Perdue stole his phone. pic.twitter.com/K0iffU57Di
— YDSA Georgia Tech (@YDSAGT) October 13, 2018
Other Georgia officials, such as congressional candidate Josh McCall have weighed in on the incident, mocking Perdue’s opposition on safe spaces.
The college group said the student might file a report with campus police on the matter.
Perdue is not up for reelection until 2020, but will be campaigning for Kemp until the November gubernatorial election, which is reportedly very tight. Kemp’s opponent is Democrat Stacy Abrams, who, if elected, would be the first black female governor in Georgia. She has already made history for being the first black woman to lead her party in the state’s General Assembly.