Obama heckled at Copernicus Center

President Obama asking heckler to stop interrupting him. Photo by Michael Bacos | EXTRA
President Obama asking heckler to stop interrupting him. Photo by Michael Bacos | EXTRA

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]resident Barack Obama was heckled during his Chicago speech Tuesday night.

Held at the Copernicus Community Center in the city’s Jefferson Park neighborhood, the speech was aimed at addressing the ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and his recent executive action to protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation.

He said he understood people’s frustration with a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

“It’s not my job as president to comment on ongoing investigations…but the frustrations people have…are rooted in hard truths,” said Obama. He also asked for the civil unrest following the decision stop in order to give way to “constructive” change.

“I have no sympathy at all for destroying your own communities,” said Obama. The president further said reforms for anything wouldn’t come because “a car got burnt.”

As the speech shifted focus to the executive action he signed last Friday regarding the nation’s immigration laws, voices began yelling “That has been a lie” and “Stop deportation.” The heckling went on for about two minutes and the entire time Obama politely tried to regain control of the room.

The exchange can be heard at the 23:05 mark on the speech’s audio.

“Nobody’s removing you, I’ve heard you, but you’ve got to listen to me too…I understand why you might have yelled at me a month ago,” said Obama. “It doesn’t make much sense to yell at me right now when we’re making changes.”

President Obama. Photo by Michael Bacos | EXTRA
President Obama. Photo by Michael Bacos | EXTRA

Obama’s executive action will not grant citizenship. Instead, it prioritizes border enforcement to focus on criminals and deporting undocumented immigrants who’ve recently crossed the border.

It also requires undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been in the country for five or more years to pass a background check and pay taxes to stay in the U.S. Additionally, it streamlines and expands work authorization for high-skilled workers currently in line for a green card.

Once he regained control of the room, Obama didn’t miss a beat to make a joke about the outburst from the audience.

“It’s good to be back in Chicago because everybody’s got something to say,” said Obama.

The Chicago incident was an echo of what happened at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, last Friday. During that speech the crowd began chanting “Si se puede!” while the president tried to explain that his executive action was just a first step and he needed the GOP to work with him on more comprehensive reform.

On Tuesday, a heckler could still be heard trying to get a final word in as Obama’s speech wrapped up and exit music started to play.

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