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Obama Shuts Down Heckler at White House

  • VOA News

President Barack Obama has faced his share of hecklers in the past seven years, but Wednesday he took on one at a gay pride month reception at the White House, scolding the protester for being disrespectful “in my house.”

The heckler had interrupted Obama's remarks by protesting the detention and deportation of gay, lesbian and transgender immigrants.

The Chicago Tribune said the heckler was a woman identified in a press release from the anti-deportation group Not1More as Jennicet Gutierrez, transgender and undocumented.

The incident occurred as Obama was hosting a reception to observe LGBT Pride Month in the East Room.

A heckler is removed for an extended interruption of U.S. President Barack Obama as he played host to a reception to observe LGBT Pride Month in the East Room at the White House in Washington, June 24, 2015.

A heckler is removed for an extended interruption of U.S. President Barack Obama as he played host to a reception to observe LGBT Pride Month in the East Room at the White House in Washington, June 24, 2015.

The heckler, repeatedly interrupting Obama, could be heard shouting about deportations in English and Spanish.

Nearly 2 minutes

At first, Obama said, “Hold on a second.” But the heckler continued to disrupt the proceedings for nearly 2 minutes.

Finally, wagging his finger, Obama said, "Hey. Listen. You're in my house," to laughter from the friendly crowd.

"You know what? It's not respectful when you get invited to somebody. You're not going to get a good response from me by interrupting me like this. I'm sorry. I'm sorry ... Shame on you, you shouldn't be doing this."

Exasperated, the president asked for the person to be escorted out.

Obama, visibly annoyed by the interruption, later joked with the crowd: "As a general rule I am just fine with a few hecklers. But not when I'm up in the house."

As he continued with his speech, Obama said that regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in an upcoming decision on gay marriage, there has been an undeniable shift in attitudes across the country.

He said he's closely watching the decisions the high court will announce in the coming days, which include a case that could affirm the right of gay couples nationwide to marry.

The president singled out discrimination facing transgender Americans as an area where more progress needs to be made.

Other hecklers

Many public speakers face hecklers. Some notable hecklers faced by the president include:

June 15, 2012: Speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House as he outlined his administration’s decision not to deport young undocumented immigrants, Obama was interrupted several times by a Daily Caller reporter, who shouted questions at the president.

Visibly angered, Obama told reporter Neil Munro, “It’s not the time for questions, sir, not while I’m speaking.”

September 9, 2009: Delivering his health care speech to a joint session of Congress, Obama was interrupted by Republican Representative Joe Wilson, who shouted, “You lie.”

Obama was describing how the Affordable Care Act would not give insurance to illegal immigrants when Wilson made his outburst, which he later described as spontaneous. The House of Representatives later officially reprimanded Wilson.

Nov. 25, 2014: Explaining his decision to provide deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants in Chicago, Obama was repeatedly interrupted by immigration activists.

During the speech, Obama said deportations should be targeting criminals not working parents, which caused numerous outbursts from activists, including, “Sorry, Mr. President, but that has been a lie," one heckler yelled. "You have deported families."

"I heard you. Now I've been respectful. I let you holler. Nobody's removing you," Obama said. "But you've got to listen to me, too."

After continued interruptions, Obama, who is from Chicago, joked, "It's good to be back in Chicago, because everybody's got something to say.”

Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.

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