Acting DHS Secretary Shouted Down by Georgetown University Protesters

Kevin McAleenan was scheduled to give a keynote address at Georgetown Law

Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan / Getty Images
October 7, 2019

Protesters shouted down a White House official as he attempted to deliver a speech at Georgetown University on Monday morning.

Acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan was scheduled to discuss immigration law and policy and take questions at an annual conference hosted by the Georgetown University Law Center. McAleenan left the stage after protesters repeatedly disrupted his address.

"Okay, thank you. Have a good day," he told the event organizers before leaving the event.

The incident started when roughly half-a-dozen protesters, initially hidden in the audience, stood up to raise banners that said "hate is not normal" and "stand with immigrants." Several protest groups, many of them unaffiliated with the university, have claimed responsibility for the disruption on Twitter.

"What do we do when immigrants are under attack?" the protesters chanted. "We stand up fight back!"

Event organizers repeatedly tried to quell the chanting. Security personnel could be seen hovering near the protesters, but none tried to remove the chanters from the audience.

"Please, that's enough now," an event organizer said. "This is a forum. We respect free speech, we respect your right to protest. But in respect to this audience who wants to hear the speaker, let's save the rest for the Q-and-A period. Thank you very much, please be seated."

McAleenan attempted to engage with the protesters, arguing that he "dedicated my career to protecting the right to free speech and all the values we hold dear in America, from all threats." One of the protesters responded with curses.

"I wanted to take our dialogue above the politics and above the daily news cycle talk about the challenges and efforts we faced last year," McAleenan said. "And to also talk about the fundamental issues we face with the current legal framework and its ability to address large scale immigration flows."

The full-day conference continued on after McAleenan's departure and is scheduled to end at 5 p.m. on Monday.

Published under: DHS , Georgetown , Protests