Hillary Clinton Interrupted While Speaking At The Columbia Center For Global Policy

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Hillary Clinton, who served as the 67th secretary of state under the Obama Administration, was about to give a speech at Columbia University when she was interrupted. It took campus officials nearly two minutes to remove the group from the room, at which point she continued her speech. Let’s take a closer look at what happened – and why!

Protester Calls Clinton A ‘War Criminal

The incident occurred on Friday (Feb. 11) just as Hillary Clinton was walking up to the podium to start her opening speech. “Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton,” a male voice exclaimed. The former First Lady was there to discuss ways of preventing sexual violence from being used as a war tactic – more on that below.

Source: Nathania Johnson

Clinton quickly responded, “That’s my name, that’s right,” with a smile on her face, but the man didn’t stop.”You are a war criminal. The people of Libya, the people of Iraq, the people of Syria, the people of Yemen, the people of Palestine as well as the people of America will never forgive you,” he added.

Columbia’s Dean Has Protestor Removed

Keren Yarhi-Milo, dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, stepped in and grabbed a mic, pleading with the protestor to leave the room immediately. The protestor refused but was eventually forced out of the room by campus officials.

Source: Unsplash

On his way out, the protestor exclaimed, “Free, Free Palestine!” seven times while Clinton patiently waited for his removal. She then thanked everyone for coming and introduced them to the subject at hand (conflict-related sexual violence) – adding that ‘yelling doesn’t solve the problem.’

Clinton Pushes Back, But More Protesters Join

It didn’t take long before another protester joined in – this time, a female. She asked Clinton if she felt ‘ashamed’ for ‘exploiting sexual violence for her own political gain’ – adding that Clinton has been doing it for years in Libya and other parts of the world.

Source: Gage Skidmore

Clinton tried to talk louder and was even talking over the protesters, but eventually gave up – deciding that she would rather them interrupt her now, as opposed to interrupting the panelists and experts. The woman continued until she was escorted out of the room, just like the previous guy.

Hillary Clinton Finally Has Enough

The woman was yelling for roughly 40 seconds, but Clinton ended up with the last word – and she set it straight. “People are free to protest, but they are not free to disrupt events or classes and that is going to be the standards that we follow here and going forward,” she said before continuing on with the speech.

Source: Flickr/Nat Johnson

The former Democratic presidential candidate joined Columbia University as a professor at the School of International and Public Affairs in January 2023. She’s also a presidential fellow at Columbia World Projects, and is the Chair of the Institute of Global Politics Chair of the IGP Faculty Advisory Board.

Former UN Ambassador Addresses Protesters

Clinton wasn’t the only one speaking at the Columbia Center for Global Policy on Friday. One of the other guests – former US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield – addressed the protesters and understood that there were ‘a lot of emotions about all of these issues.’

Source: Flickr/U.S. Embassy Namibia

She went on to praise the work they’re doing and reassured supporters of their commitment to making the world a better place for everyone. “Please be assured that there is no issue that’s related to sexual violence, violence anywhere in the world that we’re not concerned about and we’re not working on every single day,” she said.

Students Walked Out Of Clinton’s Class Last Year

On Nov. 1, Hillary Clinton was in the middle of a foreign policy lecture during her global affairs class when a group of roughly 30 students walked out on her. The incident happened about halfway through the two-hour lecture, and it was reportedly planned – though they remained peaceful.

Source: Wikimedia/Veni

What were the students after? According to The Guardian, they wanted ‘immediate legal support for affected students,’ as well as a ‘commitment to student safety, well-being and privacy.’ The walkout stemmed from an on-campus event that happened a week prior.

Clinton Has A History Of Supporting War And Violence

There’s a reason the protesters were upset at Clinton – and it’s because she has a long history of supporting violence in countries all around the world. From opposing US intervention in Haiti in 1994 (when she was First Lady) to proposing the US supply Syrian rebel groups with arms in 2012 (when she was Secretary of State).

Source: Wikimedia/Voice of America

She also voted to authorize military force in Iraq in 2002 (when she was a NY senator) and endorsed three-quarters of the surge in Afghanistan in 2009. She endorsed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, and endorsed regime change in Libya that same year.

What Did Clinton Say At The Columbia Center For Global Policy?

On Friday, once the protesters were removed, Clinton discussed what she believes to be ‘an alarming epidemic of gender-based violence as a weapon of war.’ While she admits it’s ‘nothing new,’ she says we need to start viewing it as the ‘global problem that it is.’

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Marc Nozell

Her remarks were echoed by several of the other panelists – including Sheryl Sandberg (former COO of Facebook) and Jeffrey Gettleman (Global Correspondent at the New York Times). “Each conflict sets the precedent for the next,” Sandberg said. “How we handle each one matters for what happens in the future.”

Clinton Says ‘Accountability’ Is Key To Preventing Gender Violence

If you ask Clinton, preventing gender violence starts and ends with ‘accountability.’ She believes a big reason why these crimes are so common is that they’re often ‘perpetrated with impunity.’ Those who commit these crimes are going to continue committing them until something is done to stop it.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

“It is about understanding deeply, the very real ways that women and girls are impacted differently by global challenges including this challenge of conflict-related sexual violence,” Clinton said. It’s not the first time she has spoken out against this, and it won’t be the last. Unfortunately, it won’t be the last time she faces protesters as a result.

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Ryan Handson

Written by Ryan Handson

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