US Election 2016

Donald Trump rally police 'ejected' black students

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Media captionThe video, posted by student Mike Saunders, does not show what led to the students being asked to leave

About 30 black students were ejected from a rally at their university for US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump at his request, one of the students has told the BBC.

Mike Sanders, a student at Georgia's Valdosta State University, said police officers told them the Secret Service had said "Trump doesn't want us there".

A spokeswoman for Mr Trump denied that he had requested their removal.

It comes after Mr Trump refused to disavow a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leader.

The former leader of the white supremacist KKK, David Duke, had stated his support for Mr Trump.

The billionaire candidate, who is leading the field for the Republican presidential nomination, said at the weekend that he knew nothing about Mr Duke or white supremacists.

He later blamed a faulty earpiece for his comments.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Des Moines Register's chief politics reporter Jennifer Jacobs was closely following Monday's events
Image copyright Twitter

The students at Valdosta said they were gathered peacefully at the rally on Monday, which took place ahead of Georgia's Republican primary.

"We weren't there to cause anyone harm or any trouble," Mike Sanders told the BBC.

"Shortly after we arrived there, police officers escorted us out of the venue. They took us downstairs, down a narrow staircase, and tried to force us out of the building.

"One person from our group tried to find out why we were forced to leave, but they said they would tell us outside. Once outside, they tried to move us further away. They said it was a private event, but we had tickets.

"Then, the police officers said the Secret Service had told them 'Trump doesn't want us there'. It was a very traumatising experience. Many of the people in our group were crying and confused," added Mr Sanders, who also posted a video of the incident.

The video footage does not make clear what led to the students being asked to leave. It shows some of the students arguing with police as they leave.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Trump was speaking at a rally ahead of the Georgian Republican primary on Tuesday

More video footage published by the Des Moines Register newspaper appeared to show students in tears over the incident.

Asked whether Mr Trump had requested the students' removal, his spokeswoman Hope Hicks said "there is no truth to this whatsoever".

She added that his campaign had "no knowledge of this incident".

Another student, 19-year-old Tahjila Davis, was quoted by local media as saying: "We didn't plan to do anything...They said, 'This is Trump's property; it's a private event.' But I paid my tuition to be here.

"I don't understand why they would do something like that," she said. "I have not experienced any racism on this campus until now."

Earlier on Monday, a group of black students were ejected from another Trump rally, on the campus of Radford University in Virginia, after they began chanting: "No more hate! No more hate! Let's be equal, let's be great!"

While they were leaving the building, a Secret Service agent was captured on camera throwing a photographer to the ground by his neck. Footage of the incident appeared to show the photographer swearing at the agent after he was blocked from moving to a better position.

The two rallies took place the day before Super Tuesday, a watershed day in the Republican race when 11 states hold primary contests, including a collection of southern states.