Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti was forced to end a speech at the University of Southern California on Monday prematurely after protesters began shouting over him about his administration’s treatment of the city’s homeless population.
The speech, which was intended to be a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, was interrupted after just a few minutes by a man who accused Garcetti of preventing the homeless population from organizing a local government.
“You should be ashamed of yourself,” the protester shouted, according to the Los Angeles Times. Another demonstrators stood and accused Garcetti’s administration of sanctioning the theft of homeless people’s property.
The protesters, who were organized by the Los Angeles Community Action Network and the Los Angeles chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, resorted to shouting over Garcetti so that he could not continue his speech — a tactic known as “deplatforming” that has been commonly employed against speakers deemed controversial by campus activists.
As Garcetti tried to respond to each complaint individually, the protesters tried to drown him out by singing a revised rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming Town.”
“You better watch out, you better not cry, Eric Garcetti is telling us lies, human rights violations happening now,” they sang.
Garcetti tried to quiet the crowd by citing his first amendment rights, but was unsuccessful.
“Do you respect 1st Amendment rights, do you?” Garcetti said to a one man who refused to listen to his response.
After 20 minutes of fielding complaints about police brutality, racial discrimination and housing policy, Garcetti was retrieved from the stage by an event organizer.
Alex Comisar, Garcetti’s spokesman, told the Times that it was “unfortunate” that a “very small group of people denied the audience an opportunity to hear [Garcetti’s] remarks — but he respects the 1st Amendment rights of all people who want to make their voices heard on issues that they care deeply about.”