Attorney General Eric Holder canceled a speech to a graduating class of police cadets in Oklahoma City on Thursday, after crowds of Oklahomans flocked to the ceremony to protest his appearance.
Protest organizers said Holder’s planned speech to the law enforcement graduates was “inappropriate,” and argued that the attorney general has failed to uphold the law himself.
“A lot of people just felt that it was very inappropriate for this man, with his track record, to speak to law enforcement officers that demand and expect to be backed up by the government working on behalf of the citizens, not against the citizens,” State Rep. Mike Turner (R.), who is running for U.S. congress, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Turner said Holder has flouted the law when it comes to illegal immigration, the “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal, and the Second Amendment.
The U.S. House of Representatives held Holder in contempt of Congress in 2012, on the grounds that he was impeding investigations into Fast and Furious.
The Oklahoma City protest made national news Thursday afternoon, after Holder backed out of the speech shortly before the graduation ceremony began.
Holder’s office told the Washington Times that the last-minute cancelation was due to a scheduling issue.
“The attorney general had been looking to addressing the cadets, and regrets he cannot attend in person,” spokesman Brian Fallon told the Washington Times. “He extends his heartfelt congratulations to the cadets and their families.”
Turner called the statement a “comical and convenient excuse.”
Media estimates put the number of protesters at around 100, and Turner said there was a “significant law enforcement presence.”
“There was no shortage of law enforcement officers that also felt very uncomfortable with the idea of him speaking,” said Turner.
Speakers at the protest included former congressman Tom Tancredo from Colorado.
The Department of Justice came under fire earlier this week after it issued more lenient clemency guidelines recommending that offenders without “significant” ties to gangs and drug cartels be considered for amnesty.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), former ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, called the new guidelines “an alarming abuse of the pardon power.”
“To unilaterally determine that a sentence was unjustified simply because the president disagrees with the underlying criminal justice policy is a thumb in the eye of the law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, court and prison personnel who put time and resources into these cases,” said Sessions in a statement on Wednesday.
Turner said he hopes the Oklahoma City protest inspires more rallies against Holder across the country.
“I’m kind of surprised nationally, I figured that he’d get more pushback, or more feedback, or static in other places he goes,” said Turner. “Why does Oklahoma have to be the only place that makes a show of it, that gives it a go of calling him out?”