During the final hours of their graduate journalism reporting trip, Taisha Henry and her classmate Ugonma Ubani-Ebere were in the corner of a room crying at a Marco Rubio campaign event in New Hampshire Sunday.
The New York University journalism students had been targeted by campaign staffers at the event since they walked through the door and were told they could not film anything with their cameras. Henry and Ubani-Ebere, who were two of three Black people at the event, felt alienated. They knew that they were being racially profiled.
The day after the incident Henry, back in New York City, spoke to BET.com about her and her classmate's experiences.
"Right now I feel more angry than anything else," Henry said. "I'm pretty tense. We were there to do a job. We were there to do a story. We weren't there to make a story. We were there to be objective. We weren't going to get interviews, we only wanted to get some B-roll," she further explained.
Henry said she and her classmate were looking to set up their cameras to take some footage of the event. They had just wrapped up some interviews outside. But five minutes after entering, a staffer approached the women and told them they could not film. They obliged. Henry said they were approached a second time while speaking to their professor who was in an area reserved for press. Still, they had not been filming.
"And I mean after the first person came to speak to us, we'd look up and we'd see them staring us down. We were being watched," Henry explained.
Following this, they retreated to a corner and began crying and eventually walked out of the venue. They were finally given credentials after their professors intervened and spoke to a campaign staffer and explained that they were reporting with NYU. A staffer named "Sam" wrote out the pass upon seeing the women upset.
"We went back in there to not be bullied. To not let them win," said Henry. "But it really didn't feel good being back in there. I didn't feel like I had won. And we left shortly after."
Henry said that a white classmate who was also at the event and was not carrying any credentials was not targeted. But one of their professors who is Black had trouble getting inside of the event.
She said that the weekend had otherwise been a positive one and said staffers at Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush and Gov. John Kasich events were friendly and helpful throughout the weekend.
"People may look at me like I'm a Black Lives Matter activist or something if I'm going to an event. Like I'd be ready to call someone out on something. But I'm not an activist. I'm a journalist. I can't really do things like that if I'm covering an event," Henry said further.
Marco Rubio's staff told BuzzFeed that they are currently investigating the incident. BET News reached out to the Republican National Committee and Marco Rubio's campaign and had not received a comment as of press time.
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