Protestors Disrupt First Debate Among LA Mayoral Candidates

One protestor rushes stage at Tuesday evening debate at LMU

By Sam Catanzaro

Protesters disrupted the Los Angeles Mayoral Debate at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) this week. 

The debate, which took place on February 22, featured mayoral candidates U.S. Representative Karen Bass, LA City Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Kevin de León, City Attorney Mike Feuer and real estate agent Mel Wilson. Candidate Rick Caruso declined the invitation for “scheduling reasons,” but added that he would be present at a future debate. All six are competing to replace Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is anticipated to vacate the role this spring once he is confirmed to serve as U.S. ambassador to India. The primary mayoral vote will be held on June 7.

The debate began at 6 p.m. in LMU’s Hall with candidates answering questions about the homelessness crisis. Around 15 minutes later, however, a protestor began to berate the stage, quickly followed by two others.

The protesters emerged out of the crowd during questioning over the size of the Los Angeles Police Department

“None of you represent the will of the people,” one of the hecklers said. “You are all puppets of the LAPD.”

The debate resumed briefly until another protestor resumed yelling at the candidates around 6:25 p.m. Soon after, one protestor rushed the stage.

The protestors were led out of the auditorium by security after they refused to stop yelling. 

Buscaino at one point responded to the protestors, jesting that the event’s security personnel should be paid extra and said that the hecklers were part of the Democratic Socialists of America. “We’re seeing this toxic behavior not only on social media, but here in mayor debates. This is clearly out of hand. We have First Amendment rights, but it does not give you the right to disrupt and be an idiot,” Buscaino said. 

The rest of the debate finished up with minimal outbursts from the crowd.

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