Vice President Mike Pence‘s commencement address to the University of Notre Dame Class of 2017 didn’t go as smoothly as he probably would have liked it to, thanks to protesters who walked out as the vice president began his remarks.
The protest, which was organized by the University of Notre Dame student activist coalition We StaND For, saw over 100 students walking out of the commencement ceremony on Sunday afternoon to a few boos and a few cheers.
According to the Indy Star, students had been planning this act of resistance for weeks, and knew they would not be able to re-enter the ceremony after they left. Following their exit, students gathered and celebrated their graduation outside of the Notre Dame Stadium.
Protesters also lined the streets near the stadium before the ceremony, according to South Bend Tribune, in support of the students.
Those who participated in the walk-out (including audience members) also received support from the folks behind this year’s Women’s March.
During his time as governor of the state of Indiana and now as a Vice-President, Pence has targeted the civil rights protections of members of LBGT+ community, rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities, We StaND For said in a statement provided to conservative website Townhall. All of these policies have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation.
Pence has yet to comment on the protest itself.
UPDATE: May 21, 2017, 6:11 p.m. EDT Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary issued a statement on Twitter about Sunday’s walk out. “Of 3,200 graduates less than 100 left VP’s speech about freedom of speech, expression & thought,” Marc Lotter wrote, “but many don’t focus on the 97% who stayed.”
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