Democratic Debate Night 2: Cory Booker Pauses Opening Statement As Protesters Loudly Chant 'Fire Pantaleo'

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker paused his opening statement during night two of the second round of the 2020 Democratic primary debates on Wednesday night after protesters interrupted his speech by loudly chanting "Fire Pantaleo."

Booker began his opening statement by rebuking President Donald Trump's racist comments made against Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings and his Baltimore district over the weekend. "Last week, the president of the United States attacked an Amerian city, calling it a 'disgusting rat infested rodent mess,'" Booker said.

"We need a nation," the senator continued, as chants of "Fire Pantaleo" began erupting from the crowd, "that understands that this tired, old language."

As the chanting grew louder, Booker paused his speech for roughly 25 seconds.

"Please stand by senator," a CNN moderator said during the disruption, to which Booker responded: "I will stand by." The candidate then waited for the chanting to stop before continuing with his remarks.

The protesters' chants were apparently directed at Mayor Bill de Blasio to encourage him to fire police a police officer named Daniel Pantaleo, who was allegedly responsible for the death of Eric Garner.

Last month, Garner's daughter launched a Change.org petition calling for his termination from the New York Police Department after the Department of Justice confirmed they will not press civil charges against the officer.

"Please sign this petition and help us as we continue to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill fire Officer Pantaleo," the petition said.

Following a heated night one on Tuesday evening, night two — also held in Detroit — featured the remaining 10 of the 20 candidates who qualified for the debates.

After Booker's interruption, Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro referenced Pantaleo while speaking about policing on Wednesday night.

"The Department of Justice not going after officer Pantaleo, [who] used a chokehold prohibited by NYPD, he did that for seven seconds, 11 different times. Eric Garner said he couldn't breathe, he knew what he was doing, that he was killing Eric Garner, and yet he has not been brought to justice," he said, drawing loud applause from the crowd. "That police officer should be off the streets."

Cory Booker
2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker paused his opening statement during night two of the second Democratic debates on Wednesday as protesters loudly chanted "Fire Pantaleo." CNN/Screenshot
Democratic Debate Night 2: Cory Booker Pauses Opening Statement As Protesters Loudly Chant 'Fire Pantaleo' | Politics