Sen. Cory Booker was in the middle of his opening statement at tonight’s Democratic debate when he was interrupted by protesters’ shouts from the audience. The lawmaker from New Jersey stopped speaking, and CNN and its moderators waited for the heckling to play out.
At least three protesters yelled slogans including “Fire Pantaleo!” before being escorted out of the hall in Detroit. The reference apparently was to Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who put a chokehold on Eric Garner that was caught on video and led to Garner repeating “I can’t breathe!” several times. A Staten Island grand jury this month declined to indict Pantaleo over the incident.
Booker was calling out Donald Trump’s takedown of Baltimore and its people and politicians when the yells began. Moderator Jake Tapper asked Booker to “Stand by, senator” and he agreed. The lawmaker stood quietly at the podium for 25 seconds before getting the go-ahead to continue.
Among the debaters onstage was New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had been the first candidate to deliver an opening statement.
Here is footage of the protesters that was posted to social media:
Also onstage tonight are former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Kamala Harris of California; Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; former HUD secretary Julián Castro; businessman and philanthropist Andrew Yang; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
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