A photo taken at President Donald Trump's rally on Thursday has drawn attention and ire across the internet. A photojournalist tried to capture a picture of a protester disrupting the event, but was stopped by a Trump rally volunteer who blocked the camera with his hand.
Shortly after the rally began in Evansville, Indiana, it was interrupted by a female protester, according to Courier & Press. She was escorted out, and Trump said in the mic as she left: "Where the hell did you come from?" The audience cheered.
A photographer tried to snap a photo of the incident, but a member of the president's advance team threw his hand in front of the lens. AP photographer Evan Vucci captured an image of that interaction; it's since gone viral on social media and prompted an outcry.
"That's NOT the man's job," tweeted reporter Jackie Calmes. "Traveling w/3 presidents I NEVER saw anything like that." News correspondent Kasie Hunt tweeted, "ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE: Trump staffer physically blocks you from seeing what is really going on." Editor Ciara Linnane wrote, "That's called 'censorship,'" while many pointed out the irony of the fact that Trump went on to condemn "political censorship" shortly afterward in his speech.
As Mediaite points out, the full rally was broadcast live on Fox. Many journalists were present at the event besides the one whose camera was blocked, so the Trump staffer's action didn't do much in the way of preventing audiences around the country from observing the event. But it was the principle behind the action that disturbed many, especially since Trump then criticized social media companies for trying to "control what we can and cannot see."
In typical fashion, Trump railed against the so-called "fake news media" during the rally. Per The Hill, he called journalists "dishonest, terrible people," adding: "Not all of them. Honestly, not all of them. I'd say 85 percent." The Hill also reports that the president's attacks on the media this week have been particularly frequent.
At the beginning of the rally, a voice came over the loudspeaker to instruct the audience about what to do in the event of a protest. "While we all have the rights to free speech, this is a private event paid for and hosted by Donald J. Trump for President Inc., and you came to hear the president," says the voice, per a video from The Daily Beast's Timothy Burke.
"If a protest starts near you, please do not in any way touch or harm a protester," the announcement continues, which mimics an announcement played before rallies during the election in 2016. "Please notify law enforcement officers of the location of the protester by holding a rally sign above your head and chanting, 'Trump, Trump, Trump!' Encourage others around you to do the same until officers can remove the protester from the rally."
The announcement also explained that an area outside of the event had been set aside for demonstrators. According to Courier & Press, a group of activists did take advantage of that space to hold a protest — and a rally attendee punched one of them in the face. Protesters have often disrupted Trump's rallies and are sometimes treated with extreme antagonism or even the threat of violence. Trump infamously of a demonstrator in February 2016, "I'd like to punch him in the face."