During the opening speeches at the Democratic Debate tonight, hecklers could be heard shouting. It was tough to make out just what they were saying, but it turns out they were calling for Officer Daniel Pantaleo to be fired. Later, while Joe Biden was talking during the debate, hecklers yelled “three million deportations!”
During Cory Booker’s opening statement and while Bill de Blasio was talking, you could hear hecklers yell: “Fire Pantaleo!”
They interrupted the entire debate and caused Booker to pause in his speech for a moment. Pantaleo is the police officer from Staten Island who was involved in ERic Garner’s death.
De Blasio has never called for Pantaleo to be fired, The New York Times reported, despite de Blasio saying what happened to Garner was deeply personal to him.
This month the Justice Department decided not to bring federal civil rights charges against Pantaleo, which is further building tensions. Pantaleo’s professional future will be decided by the end of August, the New York Post reported. And on Tuesday, City Hall said that de Blasio trust the process. In mid-July, de Blasio wouldn’t speak out on whether he thought Pantaleo should be fired.
You can read more about Pantaleo’s background in Heavy’s story from 2014 here.
There was some debate on Twitter about what the hecklers were saying, but it finally was determined that they were speaking out against Pantaleo and Garner’s death.
Shaun King called the protestors “brave” and thanked them on Twitter.
De Blasio’s Twitter account responded to the hecklers. His account wrote: “To the protestors in the audience today: I heard you. I saw you. I thank you. This is what democracy looks like and no one said it was pretty.”
His account continued: “I want the Garner family and every single person hurt by the tragedy of his death to know they are seen and heard. We all watched Eric Garner’s dying words. They haunted this nation. He NEVER should have died. #DemDebate”
He continued: “While I believe that respecting the process is the best way to get justice for Eric Garner’s family, I recognize and identify with the pain people across this country are feeling. … From ending a broken policy of stop-and-frisk to training our officers in implicit bias, we’ve fundamentally changed our city because of Eric Garner — so that a tragedy like this never happens again.”
This has sparked a conversation on Twitter during the debate.
The entire debate was briefly shut down while the protestors took over.
Some praised the debate for letting the protesters have their say for a moment.
Even though the protesters were loudest during Booker’s speech, it was directed at de Blasio.
And Booker paused to let them have their say.
De Blasio’s surrogate has said that he would have fired Pantaleo if he were able to, The New York Post reported. Spokesman Luis Sepulveda told The New York Post: ““I have no doubt that if due process permitted an immediate firing, I believe the mayor would have fired him immediately. But unfortunately, these are things he cannot do, legally.”
The hecklers who were shouting appeared to be escorted out of the debate. But one of the hecklers involved said they were allowed to stay:
But then later they were told to leave. They said they hadn’t planned to interrupt Booker’s speech and the interruption happened when a Detroit police officer tried to make them leave after they were told they could stay.
One of the protesters, Rev. Kirsten John Foy, told the New York Post: “[De Blasio] has failed to provide justice for the family of Eric Garner and the city of New York… [He can’t] export [his] version of police accountability and police community relations out of New York City, across America, without us following [him] around and clearing the record…”
Some people are saying they want to vote for the hecklers.
Later, hecklers yelled “three million deportations!” while Biden was speaking.
This is apparently in response to reported deportations during President Barack Obama’s administration. Biden later said that comparing Obama to Trump is “absolutely bizarre.”
It seems heckling and protesting will be a theme in tonight’s debate, and viewers think it’s great.
Now people are debating on whether they should include “heckling” in a Bingo card for the next debate.