Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS)Secretary Kevin McAleenan was forced to leave an event after protesters refused to allow him to speak.
McAleenan was set to address a crowd at the 16th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference at Georgetown Law School, where he was slated to give the keynote address and participate in a question-and-answer forum.
None of that ended up happening, however. Just as McAleenan stood to give his keynote address, protesters with a sign, reading, “Hate is not normal,” started shouting, drowning out the secretary’s remarks.
He paused several times, hoping the hecklers would quiet down and allow him to continue, but that never happened.
They continued to shout about the Trump administration’s immigration policy, including chants like, “When children are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”
Watch McAleenan’s comments below:
Despite calls for the protesters to allow McAleenan to speak from several of the moderators for the event, the group refused to sit down or allow him to continue.
When it became clear that the protesters were not going to stop, McAleenan just got up and left the event.
“Last time, team. [There’s a lot] to cover today. There are some very serious issues that we can talk about in candor, in a real dialogue. Or we can continue to shout,” said McAleenan.
The protesters opted for the latter option, prompting the secretary to grab his belongings and leave.
McAleenan is not the first DHS secretary from President Donald Trump‘s cabinet to face hackers. Former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also faced hecklers when she was out to a private dinner, as IJR reported at the time.
UPDATE [10/7/2019, 1:15 p.m. ET]:
DHS released the following statement about McAleenan’s protesters:
“The First Amendment guarantees all Americans the right to free speech and assembly. Unfortunately that right was robbed from many who were scheduled to speak and attend today’s event at Georgetown. Unfortunately the Acting Secretary and the audience did not get the opportunity to engage in a robust dialogue this morning due to the disruptions of a few activists. The Acting Secretary thanked the organizers and returned to work protecting the Homeland and American values. Event attendees would have learned more about DHS’s successful strategy to work with international partners to reduce unlawful migration and end the exploitation of children by smugglers and cartels, and then they would have had the opportunity to participate in an unmoderated question and answer session.”