Here's what protesters were chanting at the start of the Democratic debate

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Multiple people have been removed from the Fox Theatre audience after disrupting statements of the Democratic presidential candidates during the second night of debates Wednesday.

A man was removed from the audience for leading a chant calling for the firing of the New York police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner’s case.

Candidates weren’t 20 minutes into the debate when protesters interrupted their introductory remarks, their chanting “Fire Pantaleo!” causing U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey to halt his remarks.

The first up to speak in Wednesday’s debate, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio touted his record of decreased crime, free early childhood education and an increased minimum wage.

He took the first swipe at former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, criticizing them for plans that weren’t ambitious enough. 

For the last four decades, “working people have taken it on the chin in this country,” de Blasio said, before promising “we will tax the hell out of the wealthy” to make a better country. 

An attendee began chanting “Fire Pantaleo!” while de Blasio was speaking. 

The mayor is under fire for declining to support demands by Eric Garner’s family for the police department to dismiss New York Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Garner died at the hands of the officer, sparking national outrage.

Multiple people joined in the chant while Booker was speaking. The outcry caused a moment of silence among the candidates. Neither candidates, nor moderators addressed the situation aside from Booker pausing.

At least two men and one woman were moved from the theater for the disruption, according to audience member Elizabeth Washington.

About an hour into the debate more people were removed from the 5,000-person audience for chanting "3 million deportations," and holding up flags while Biden was speaking.

Biden's people tweeted a response while he was on stage. 

The Detroit News caught up with some of the protesters outside. 

Rev. Kirsten John Foy said they decided to express their views about Mayor de Blasio's "lack of leadership, for his failure to fire Daniel Pantaleo, the killer of Eric Garner."

"He wants to get up and proclaim himself to be a progressive, well show us your progressive credentials," Foy said. "Don’t sit there and say you want to create a more equitable society for everyone, while back at home you’re allowing police officers to kill without any recourse or accountability."

Other protesters removed were Linda Sarsour, Mysonne Linen and Tamika Mallory.

"Then minutes later after multiple candidates spoke, a police officer came over and showed us his cuffs and said if we didn’t leave we’d be arrested," Mallory tweeted. "...We did not interrupt Cory Booker, it was the Detroit Police Department that interrupted Booker and the debate to intimidate peaceful protesters for standing up for the dignity of Black life that had already completed protest minutes ago."

Washington said she was sitting to the left of the theater when she saw the incident unfold rows in front of her.

"Everyone got quiet and the candidates carried on anyways," the Dearborn resident said. "Five security men rushed up to them, and people in the crowd were taking pictures. After the first man shouted, a lot of people looked nervous. 

But once they were escorted out, "the crowd was paying more attention to them not the candidates," she said.

Detroit News staff writer Payne Lubbers contributed.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_