Former FBI director James Comey struggled on Friday to give the convocation address at Howard University, speaking over a group of about 20 students who sang and chanted continuously throughout the speech.
Protesters seated near the back of Howard’s auditorium stood with raised fists and began singing “We Shall not be Moved” as Comey stepped to the lectern and thanked the university’s president. The group ran through multiple other chants, including “no justice, no peace,” "f*** Jim Comey" and “get out Jim Comey, you’re not our homie,” prompting the former FBI chief to stand silently at the microphone, delaying the start of his remarks, hands folded in front of him.
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At one point, Comey sought to quiet the protesters by saying that “I hope you’ll stay to listen to what I have to say, and I just listened to you for five minutes.” The effort was unsuccessful, and after several more minutes of waiting out the protesters, and one administrator’s unsuccessful admonitions for the protesters to be seated, Comey offered his speech as the chants and slogans continued to pour from the back of the auditorium.
No effort was made to remove the demonstrators.
“I love the enthusiasm of the young folks, I just wish they would understand what a conversation is. A conversation is where you speak and I listen, and then I speak and you listen,” the former FBI director said. “And then we go back and forth and back and forth. And at the end of a conversation, we're both smarter. I am here at Howard to try to get smarter, to try to be useful, to try to have healthy conversations."