Protesters disrupted Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Equality Town Hall meeting on Thursday night, which aired live on CNN. The Democratic presidential candidate was about to answer his first audience question when yells came from the audience.
Two protesters walked down the aisle and unfurled large transgender flags that read “We are dying.” They were joined by others chanting “trans lives matter” and “do something.” Security personnel rushed to the floor to remove them, one of whom appeared to slip and fall.
As @PeteButtigieg‘s town hall begins, trans protesters hold flags and chant. He’s now addressing how diverse and challenged the LGBTQ community is and that it must be open to acceptance #EqualityTownHall pic.twitter.com/mcLr9zG9br
– Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) October 11, 2019
“It’s OK, it’s OK,” moderator Anderson Cooper said as the protesters were escorted away. Buttigieg — who is openly gay — stood quietly as they were removed.
“Whoa, whoa,” Buttigieg then responded, seemingly in response to the protester’s fall.
“Yo, guys, chill out, relax,” Cooper added.
As the protesters were removed, Cooper said, “Let me just point out there is a long and proud tradition in history in the gay and lesbian and transgender community of protest and we applaud them for their protest. And they are absolutely right to be angry and upset at the lack of attention particularly in the media for the lives of transgender.”
When the Q&A resumed, Buttigieg took a moment to address the disruption.
“I do want to acknowledge what these demonstrators were speaking about, which is the epidemic of violence against black trans women in this country right now,” Buttigieg said. “I believe or would like to believe that everybody here is committed to ending that epidemic and that does include lifting up this visibility and speaking to it.”
At least 19 transgender people have been murdered in 2019, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which sponsored the Town Hall.
Many of the top candidates, including frontrunners Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris also discussed LGBT issues at the Equality Town Hall. Bernie Sanders did not attend following his heart surgery.
The top 12 candidates will debate broader issues next Tuesday in the fourth Democratic debate.