Booker praises protesters who interrupted his remarks to chant, 'Fire Pantaleo'

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker praised a group of protesters who interrupted his opening statement Wednesday during the second round of Democratic debates to call for the arrest of a New York City police officer accused of using a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner.

Booker was speaking at the Detroit debate when several members of the audience began chanting, "Fire Pantaleo," referring to Daniel Pantaleo, who was accused of choking Garner in 2014 during an arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

While on the ground, Garner repeatedly said, "I can't breathe!" That became a rallying cry against police brutality.

Booker paused during the interruption while the protesters were escorted from the building.

"To the folks who were standing up to Mayor de Blasio a few minutes ago—good for you. That's how change is made. #DemDebate," he tweeted later, referring to another of the Democratic candidates for president, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The shouting was also heard when de Blasio gave his opening remarks.

"To the protesters in the audience today: I heard you. I saw you. I thank you. This is what democracy looks like and no one said it was pretty. #DemDebate," he later tweeted.


Garner's death, along with others involving white police officers and people of color, sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced it would not charge Pantaleo in Garner's death.

A Staten Island grand jury also declined to indict Pantaleo.