Hillary Clinton’s campaign speech at a historically black university in Atlanta was drowned out for over ten minutes by protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement Friday, with Clinton yelling over loud chanting and singing while Atlanta’s mayor and another Democratic lawmaker struggled to quell the clamor.
Clinton’s rally at Clark Atlanta University drew hundreds of students to a campus auditorium, most of them African American. But minutes after she was introduced by John Lewis, the longtime Georgia congressman who is a hero of the civil rights movement, a group of activists stood up and began disrupting her speech with chants of “BLACK LIVES MATTER!”
At first, the Democratic frontrunner responded calmly. “Yes they do, and I’m gonna talk a lot about that in a minute,” she said. “Now, my friends, I am going to get to some very important points that actually prove that black lives do matter and we have to take action together. And I hope that we’ll have a chance to talk more as I have been meeting with activists from the Black Lives Matter movement.”
But with the protesters refusing to let up, Clinton persisted with her speech, raising her voice in order to be heard over the continued chants and snatches of song floating through the crowd. Some members of the audience tried to shout down the protesters, which only added to the commotion. CNN’s Dan Merica tweeted that much of Clinton’s speech was completely inaudible to the traveling press corps.
#share#“I have some issues to discuss and proposals to make if our friends will allow me to do it,” Clinton said, after several minutes of continued disruption. “They may actually find them to our liking.”
When that didn’t work, she tried to address the protesters directly. “To those who are listening and those who are singing, we need you,” she pleaded.
#related#The rest of the crowd looked uncomfortable as Clinton ineffectively mouthed her remarks, counter-chanting “Hillary!” and “Let her talk!” But it ultimately took Congressman Lewis and Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed to defuse the situation. Merica reported that the congressman put his hands on the shoulders of protesters and spoke to them, after which they were escorted from the room.
With the protesters gone, Clinton thanked the mayor and congressman for “[having] her back,” and spoke a few more words about the lengthy disruption. “I appreciate [the protesters’] passion,” she said. “But I’m sorry they weren’t listening, because some of what they’re demanding I am offering and will fight for as president!”
— Brendan Bordelon is a political reporter for National Review.