Booker praises protesters who interrupted debate by chanting 'fire Pantaleo'

Booker praises protesters who interrupted debate by chanting 'fire Pantaleo'
© Getty Images

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-N.J.) on Wednesday praised the protesters who interrupted his opening remarks with calls for firing the New York police officer involved in the death Eric Garner.

Booker and fellow presidential candidate New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioSanders, Warren back major shift to fight drug overdoses Democratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows If the Democratic debates were pro wrestling, de Blasio is comic relief MORE were met with chants of "Fire Pantaleo" as they delivered their opening remarks in Detroit during the second round of debates.

The chant was a reference to New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was involved in the choking death of Garner while attempting to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes.

The chants forced the New Jersey senator to pause while delivering his opening remarks.

"To the folks who were standing up to Mayor de Blasio a few minutes ago—good for you," Booker's official Twitter account tweeted during the second round of the 2020 Democratic primary debates. "That's how change is made. "

Garner's 2014 death was one of many fatal incidents that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Booker and other White House hopefuls have consistently spoken about problems associated with race and law enforcement.

The Justice Department announced earlier this month that it would not charge Pantaleo for Garner's death. 

"This decision is wrong, unjust and painful reminder of just how broken our criminal justice system is," Booker said on Twitter following the Justice Department's decision. "Eric Garner should be alive today. I pray his loved ones can find peace."