Protesters demanding attention to ongoing violence against transgender women momentarily disrupted Thursday night the CNN town hall on LGBT issues just as Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg was taking the stage.
The protesters came on the stage just as an audience member was about to ask the first question of Buttigieg. Their numbers were hard to quantify from the vantage point of the CNN camera recording the event, as was their exact message, but they were clearly carrying a large transgender Pride flag and were chanting, “Trans Lives Matter.” Cheers were heard in the audience as the protesters approached the stage.
Anderson Cooper, who was serving as moderator for Buttigieg’s town hall, sought to tamp down any objections to the protesters, saying “It’s OK, it’s OK,” and “Be Cool.”
“Let me just point out there is a long and proud history in the gay, lesbian and transgender community of protest, and we applaud them for their protest,” Cooper said. “They’re absolutely right to be angry and upset by the lack of attention, particularly in the media, on the lives of transgender people,” Cooper said.
In response to something off stage, Cooper said. “I agree,” then, “I was not applauding.” Regaining control of the forum, Cooper returned to the questioner, Robbie Goldman, a Ph.D. student, who asked Buttigieg about meeting the LGBT community’s expectation for how a gay man should be.
Buttigieg took the opportunity to affirm the protesters’ concerns before addressing the audience member’s question.
“Thank you for your question, and before I turn to it, I do want to acknowledge what these demonstrators were speaking about, which is the epidemic of violence against black trans women in this country right now,” Buttigieg said. “And I believe, or would like to believe, that everybody here is committed to ending that epidemic.”