Noisy protesters shouted and chanted over James Comey on Friday as he attempted to deliver a convocation address at Howard University, forcing him to delay his remarks and then practically drowning out the rest of his speech.
The protest started as soon as the former FBI director took the podium at the historically black college in Washington, D.C.
Protesters raised their right fists in the air and chanted, “We shall not be moved.” They also said, “F--- James Comey” and “No justice, no peace.”
Comey was unable to speak at first due to the disruption. After several minutes, Comey tried to begin. “I hope you’ll stay and listen to what I have to say. ... I listened to you for five minutes,” he said, before pausing again.
After several more minutes of protests, Comey launched into his prepared speech – which, ironically, was about how the rest of the world is often “too noisy” to take time to reflect, whereas Howard University represents an “island.”
Comey had to raise his voice throughout the address as the chanting persisted. The protesters later said they were with the group HU Resist and were protesting “state-sanctioned violence.”
In his remarks, Comey said he appreciated the demonstrators’ “enthusiasm” but wishes they could understand “what a conversation is.”
“At the end of a conversation, we’re both smarter. I am here at Howard to try to get smarter, to try to be useful,” Comey said.
The rowdy scene marked a rough start for Comey at Howard, where he’s joined the faculty as a lecturer.
Comey, who was fired by President Trump earlier this year amid tensions over the Russia probe, has also been in the headlines lately – as Hillary Clinton criticizes him in her newly released campaign memoir, and Republicans on Capitol Hill look to drag him back to Capitol Hill amid concerns over possible discrepancies in his testimony concerning the Clinton email case.
The speech Friday, though, touched on none of the 2016 campaign controversies or the Russia probe he used to oversee.
Instead, he was trying to deliver a message about listening to one another – as he was drowned out by protesters. The irony was not lost on him.
“The rest of the real world is a place where it’s hard sometimes to find people who will listen with an attitude that they might actually be convinced of something. Instead what happens in most of the real world, and… in this auditorium, is that people don’t listen at all,” he said.
He closed his speech by saying: “I look forward to adult conversation about what is right and what is true.”
Fox News’ Judson Berger and Bill Mears contributed to this report.