Sun-Sentinel journalist Mike Mayo recounted being told by a Palm County Sheriff’s Deputy, on March 13, 2016, that he could “leave or be arrested,” simply for taking photos and shooting a video with his smartphone, while at a Donald Trump rally. Mayo recounted the Sunday evening experience that took place in West Boca, Florida.
Mayo purchased a ticket for general admission, as a member of the public, watched the Trump rally, and proceeded to the county park without a problem. He recalled that there were thousands of people in the audience who were also filming the event, the crowd, and the general proceedings. By 8:40 p.m., Trump was still speaking the crowd, but groups were starting to leave early, presumably, to miss the congested post-rally traffic. The Sun-Sentinel journalist started recording the streaming crowds exiting. He stated he was approached by a Palms County Sheriff Deputy and was told to leave immediately or he would be arrested. Mayo chose to leave the rally. A Trump campaign official instructed the deputy to inform the journalist that, “He was being trespassed.”
As the journalist left the rally, under the threat of arrest, where thousands of other people were holding their phones aloft to record the rally and Trump’s speech, he tried to speak to the campaign official about why he was being asked to leave the rally, under threat of arrest. Mayo identified himself with a business card and had his press pass in full view. He stated that he had done nothing wrong and had purchased a general admission ticket to be at the event. The campaign official identified himself as, “Justin” and told him, “We can do this the easy way or the hard way,” and handed Mayo off to a police officer. Mayo protested that the park was a public space, however, the officer corrected him, “This park is rented by the Donald Trump campaign, and they are the ones who say who can stay or go.”
Mayo reported that in his 30 years as a journalist, he was able to recognize when it was time to argue for his constitutional rights and when it would be more beneficial to bring attention to it later, preferably in a court of law. So he left the rally, rather than be arrested.
This account of the Sun-Sentinel journalist, who was asked to leave or be arrested for simply being the press, marks another instance, which the press has had a conflict with the Trump campaign. A CBS News journalist, Sopan Deb, was handcuffed and removed from a Trump rally on March 12. Like Mayo, he had his press badge and identified himself as such, yet found himself being charged with resisting arrest. The arrest was caught on film and Deb offered no resistance.
As of March 14, 2016, two staff members resigned from Breitbart News, in the wake of the website’s stance on the coverage of Trump. The conservative website questioned the credibility of its own reporter, Michelle Fields, and her account of being manhandled by a Trump campaign manager. A total of six Breitbart reporters quit their jobs for the website, citing the abrupt change in values from the initial mission of the conservative grassroots news site. One of the resigning staffers stated that “Breitbart is less of a website..and more of a Trump propaganda organization.” Michelle Fields since filed a police report against Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager for Trump.
Mayo stated that he only wished to experience the event, like the thousands of others in attendance, as an everyday person. He had covered a Marco Rubio rally on March 1, 2016, the same way, by observing as a member of the general public. He believes that due to his press badge being visible, he was openly targeted by the Trump campaign. No one else was instructed to leave just for recording, or using social media, in fact, Mayo said it was openly encouraged at the rally. A speaker told the crowd to use a certain hashtag when posting their videos and photos. It was only when a member of the campaign noticed his badge, the Sun-Sentinel journalist was asked to leave or be arrested, while at the Trump rally.
By Juanita Lewis
Edited by Jeanette Smith
The Sun-Sentinel: Mayo: My choice at Trump rally – Leave or go to jail
CNN: CBS reporter arrested at Trump rally: ‘I’ve never seen anything like what I’m witnessing’
Politico: Two more staffers resign from Breitbart
Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License