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Multiple Pro-Palestinian protestors interrupt campus event featuring Nancy Pelosi

Rep. Pelosi spoke about democracy with David Axelrod, and five protesters were removed from the event


Former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks with former Obama advisor David Axelrod at an event at the Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health on Monday, April 8, 2024, in Tempe. 

Several people were escorted out of an event featuring U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, in protest of the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Pelosi, the 52nd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, visited ASU on Monday for the "Democracy at Work" series with David Axelrod to talk about democracy and diversity in government.

This discussion featured conversations about the state of democracy in the U.S., covering a wide range of topics from legislative priorities to the importance of civic engagement.

The event was interrupted multiple times by pro-Palestine student protesters, while a larger protest chanted outside. 

Five protesters disrupted the speakers with chants and speeches inside the event before being removed by security. They staggered their interruptions, being removed from the event at various times. 

The protest was organized by the Arizona Palestine Solidarity Alliance, the Party for Socialism and Liberation Arizona Chapter and Students Against Apartheid. Around 25 students and community members attended the protest outside of the Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health.

One of the removed disruptors was Lexsiri Coronado, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

"I don’t think they will win the next election because the people are seeing their silence in this genocide," Coronado said. "I just said, 'Nancy Pelosi, you will not be (re)elected. Joe Biden will not be elected.'"  

Coronado criticized Pelosi and the Democratic party for not calling for an immediate ceasefire.

On April 5, Pelosi was one of several members of Congress who sent a letter to Biden asking the U.S. to stop sending military aid and equipment to Israel. This letter came after seven World Central Kitchen aid workers were accidentally killed in an Israeli airstrike. 

Coronado also pushed back against comments Pelosi made on TV in January that some pro-Palestine protesters were connected to Russia. 

"Nancy Pelosi has accused the people disrupting her events of being paid by Russia. I’m not being paid by Russia," Coronado said. "I'm the daughter of two illegal immigrants. I was born in Arizona, I'm a service worker. The only people I'm being paid by is the restaurant I work for."

Four other people were removed from the event, the first of whom was a Palestinian-American student who spoke about the experiences of their family members in Palestine. 

The protesters also chanted against Axelrod, a political strategist and the moderator of the event. 

The protesters also criticized University partnerships with Israeli corporations, specifically the Israel-U.S. Initiative on Cybersecurity Research and Development for Energy

ASU is one of the leads for the American part of the partnership and works to improve the cybersecurity of energy producers. ASU has been involved in the ICRDE since 2021.

Many students also attended the event to hear from Pelosi and Axelrod without railing against the former House Speaker's position on the conflict in Gaza.

Former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks with former Obama advisor David Axelrod at an event at the Rob & Melani Walton Center For Planetary Health on Monday, April 8, 2024, in Tempe. 

Pelosi talked about the need for diversity in politics, saying that it's about ensuring a broader range of diversity across all levels of government. 

Pelosi said it is important for Congress to "make a point of electing not just more women, but also young people. When we say we want more diversity, we mean not only more women and young men but also more young people."

"I had the amazing opportunity to listen to the former Speaker of the House that is leading the way, not only in women's rights, but civil rights as a whole," said Jacob George, a sophomore studying political science. "When she walked into the room, I felt democracy prevailing at its core." 

Jacob Marson, a sophomore studying political science and the founder of the Keep Arizona Blue Student Coalition, shared his takeaways from the event.

"I really enjoyed her talking about her decades of experience in elected office," Marson said. "From the Affordable Care Act to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, she's played a critical role in the passage of the most important pieces of legislation in modern time."

Edited by Grey Gartin, Alysa Horton and Shane Brennan

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