When it comes to the game of politics, there's always one moment that makes you go "wow," and not always in a good way. When the second night of the Democratic 2020 presidential debates kicked off on Wednesday, July 31, everyone was ready to see each a candidate in action. While the first round of the (second) debate was generally decorous and the candidates got their time, the second night was not so lucky, when protesters repeatedly interrupted the debate. So what were protesters saying at the July 31 Democratic debate? There seem to have been a couple of issues.
On Thursday, July 31, the 10 remaining presidential candidates gathered in Detroit, Michigan to face off against one another and convince the American people that they're a fit for the White House. The second night of debates featured Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
While each candidate gave it their all by sharing their plans for the United States, there was one thing that stood out — and it wasn't because of the candidates. Not even 20 minutes into the debate, a group of protestors interrupted opening statements from de Blasio and Booker, apparently yelling "Fire Pantaleo." Daniel Pantaleo was the New York City Police Department officer who was involved in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, which was caught on camera and captured Garner's famous last words of "I can't breathe." Garner's dying words became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, and activists have called for consequences for Pantaleo, who is seen on video holding Garner in a prohibited chokehold. On July 16, the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to bring federal charges against Pantaleo, and in 2014 a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict him.
A video apparently taken from inside the debate venue on July 31 showed protesters being escorted out by security, still yelling "Fire Pantaleo."
De Blasio later addressed the protesters in a tweet, saying "I heard you. I saw you. I thank you." Booker — who as a senator from New Jersey, does not have any sort of jurisdiction over Garner's death, which happened in New York state — also appeared to reference the protesters on social media, writing in a tweet, "To the folks who were standing up to Mayor de Blasio a few minutes ago—good for you. That's how change is made."
Later, Biden was answering a question pertaining to immigration, but was interrupted by other protestors apparently chanting "3 million deportation" while he was speaking. This pertains to NBC host, and moderator of the first round of Democratic debates, José Díaz-Balart, claiming that the Obama administration deported "three million Americans" while asking a question to Biden. Even though each candidate recovered well from the interruptions, the protestors at the July 31 definitely shook the stage.
Sometimes, these debates can go over people's heads. Hey, there's no shame in admitting that. Politics can be a tricky subject to understand, but this moment from the Democratic debate was something that resonated with many people.
While the July 30 debate didn't see any protesters, that doesn't mean there were no big moments. During the debate, Rep. John Delaney of Maryland criticized progressive candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts by stating their politics are too far to the left. Delaney went on to say that candidates should focus on "kitchen table jobs" such as issues pertaining to infrastructure and and increasing jobs. Never one to back down from a fight, Warren clapped back at Delaney's comments and defended her stances on big-picture issues such as universal health care and completely eliminating student debt. Safe to say, it was one of the most passionate moments of the debate.
"I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for," Warren said.
Just like that, the second round of Democratic presidential debates have come to an end. While there's no word when or where the next Democratic debates will take place, this election is definitely heating up. Time will only tell which candidates will make the cut, but in the meantime, don't touch that dial.