CHICAGO, Ill. – An Indian American digital reporter, Sopan Deb, with CBS News was arrested in Chicago Mar. 11, while covering a rally supporting Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
The rally — held at the University of Illinois — attracted thousands of the outlier front runner’s supporters, and an equal number of protesters decrying the xenophobic and sexist remarks he has made on the campaign trail. As of Mar. 15, Trump has amassed 469 delegates, far outpacing his opponents: Texas Senator Ted Cruz; Florida Senator Marco Rubio; and Ohio Governor John Kasich. Results from the Mar. 15 Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois primaries had not yet been announced as India-West went to press. Florida – with 99 delegates – and Ohio – with 66 – hold “winner take all” primaries. If Trump wins both states, he will have a nearly-clear path to the Republication nomination, despite his party’s reluctance.
Deb could not be reached for comment. But in an interview with “Face the Nation,” the digital reporter – who has been covering Trump’s campaign since last summer, when the real estate mogul announced his candidacy – said he had never seen anything like the fracas that ensued at the rally that day.
“Hundreds of protesters took over multiple sections of the stadium,” said Deb, noting that at some point, an announcement came through that Trump was postponing the rally due to security concerns. After the announcement, “total pandemonium” broke out on both sides, reported Deb.
As the venue cleared, Deb went outside where thousands of protesters had largely shut off the streets. He saw a group of policemen racing to a spot, and followed them. The veteran reporter saw police surrounding a man with his bloodied head on the ground and started shooting footage.
“Before I knew it, a police officer – maybe multiple police officers – pulled me down from the back of my hoodie and threw me down, pushing my face into the ground.”
“One officer pushed his boot on my neck,” stated Deb, adding that he was then hand-cuffed.
During his arrest, Deb said he told police multiple times that he was a member of the press and offered to show his media credentials. “They weren’t listening to me,” he said.
Deb, along with the bloodied man, were put into the back of a police van and taken to a police station. The reporter spent another hour in handcuffs before he was released. He was charged with resisting arrest, though video feeds from numerous independent sources documented no signs of resistance.
“These protests have been going on for months and months, but I have never seen anything like this,” Deb told “Face the Nation.”
The reporter is now back on the campaign trail with Trump.
Earlier this year, Deb – in a series of tweets from a Trump rally in Reno, Nevada – reported: “A Trump supporter just asked me at Reno event if I was taking pictures for ISIS. When I looked shocked, he said, "yeah, I'm talking to you."
“The man then repeated the accusation multiple times. I told him, politely, I was with CBS and that what he said was inappropriate.”
“He said ‘This is America...be glad that you're here.’ I have a couple guesses what he meant by that. The best part is that the man — an apparent Vietnam vet — started filming me with his cell, as if he really thought I was filming for ISIS.”
Deb tweeted that the man wished him a nice day at the end of the encounter.
The Howell, New Jersey, native is an alumnus of Boston University. His LinkedIn profile states that he won the Edward R. Murrow award in 2011 while working for The Boston Globe for his documentary profile of NBA star Bill Russell. Deb has also worked as an assistant producer for NBC News and a field producer for Al Jazeera America. He has been with CBS since 2014.