A group of leftist protesters were caught on video Monday repeatedly shouting chants and interrupting acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan's speech at Georgetown University — until he finally gave up and left the stage.
McAleenan was slated to give the keynote address at the 16th Annual Immigration, Law, and Policy Conference, National Review reported.
As McAleenan stepped up to the microphone, protestors in the venue stood up as well — a pair of them held up a banner reading "Hate is not normal" — and began chanting slogans.
"When immigrants are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!" the protesters shouted, among other things.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
Doris Meissner — a Migration Policy Institute Senior Fellow and panelist for the speech — kept calmly asking protesters to stop their interruptions so McAleenan could give his speech, the outlet said.
"Would you please be seated?" Meissner was heard asking as protesters kept chanting. "Alright, that's enough. That is enough. Please be seated or take the protest outside. We hear you. We hear you. We hear you. We hear you. We hear you ... It's time to finish this. You're robbing this audience of the opportunity to engage in a dialogue that is important to have on a university campus. Please. Please. ... So let's stop the one-way street, let's listen to the speaker, then let's have an exchange. Thank you very much."
The protesters resumed their chanting as McAleenan made another attempt. After Meissner appeared to quell the protesters once again, McAleenan said he'd try speaking again.
"As a career law enforcement professional, I've dedicated my career to protecting the right to free speech and all the values we hold dear in America from all threats," he began.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
"Bulls**t!" someone from the crowd was heard yelling.
McAleenan smiled in response and continued: "So we'll go ahead and try one more time, but otherwise I'm going to go back to work and keep trying to secure this country."
The chanting resumed, with names being recited and protesters shouting in unison, "Presente!"
Andrew Selee — president of the Migration Policy Institute — addressed the protesters as "colleagues" and reminded them that their appeals for democracy required "listening" and "dialogue" and a "two-way street."
McAleenan tried again: "OK, last time, team. Lot to cover today. There's some very serious issues that we can talk about, in candor, in a real dialogue, or we can continue to shout."
Then after noting that he was speaking to "primarily an audience of immigration lawyers, advocates, and law students," the chanting resumed — and McAleenan finally departed.
Here's the clip. (Content warning: "Bulls**t" is shouted at the 5:33 mark — but there's a scholarly ring to it, at least):
Protesters Disrupt Acting Homeland Security Secretary youtu.be
What was the fallout?
The College Fix said Georgetown media relations and the university's law school didn't immediately answer its questions regarding how they'll respond to the protesters shutting down the speech, which the outlet said was actually organized by pro-immigration groups and the law school.
More from the Fix:
A spokesperson for [the Migration Policy Institute] told Politico the protest was organized by CREDO Action, a progressive group. Its Twitter profile celebrated the deplatforming of McAleenan and retweeted a claim that Georgetown Law students were involved in the shutdown.
CREDO itself confirmed to The Hill that Georgetown Law students were involved. The group had unsuccessfully tried to get the event organizers and Georgetown Law to disinvite McAleenan.
Some students vocally protested outside the venue, surrounded by several police officers who apparently didn't think of removing the protesters inside the venue.
An MPI spokesperson denounced the hecklers in a statement to The Hill, according to the Fix: "By drowning out the Secretary's remarks, the protesters deprived immigration attorneys, service providers, journalists, advocates, business leaders, law students, and many others in the public who were in the audience from hearing his point of view and engaging in a meaningful dialogue."
Erica Goldberg — a visiting scholar at the law school's Center for the Constitution who teaches at the University of Dayton, the Fix said — tweeted that "respecting the rights of protesters does not mean allowing them to hijack events that consist entirely of the exchange of ideas and are thus clearly part of academic freedom and free speech values. Universities should honor their primary goal of education, not social justice."