To viewers at home, it was not immediately clear what the protestors were saying. But Jess Davidson, executive director of the advocacy organization End Rape on Campus, confirmed to TIME that the group was chanting about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Davidson also tweeted that the protestors were chanting “we are DACA recipients. Our lives are at risk.” She also wrote that at least some protesters got on the stage.
— Jess Davidson (@DavidsonJess22) September 13, 2019
Davidson told TIME via Twitter that she was “in the front row of the side stand near them and watched them be escorted out.”
Another person also tweeted a video of a man wearing a shirt that read “Defend DACA, Abolish ICE, citizenship for all” being escorted out of the debate.
— Camille Lasin (@CamilleLasin) September 13, 2019
Hunter Schwarz, a reporter for Yello Zine, also tweeted photos of protestors being removed.
— Hunter Schwarz (@hunterschwarz) September 13, 2019
The protestors interrupted Biden right as he was about to discuss the death of his wife and daughter in a tragic car crash. Some people on Twitter labeled the move insensitive — or at the very least incredibly poor timing.
The protestors actually helped Joe Biden by making him appear more sympathetic when he talked about family and hardships. We couldn’t even hear what the protestors were saying. That was a bad move that backfired. #DemDebate
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) September 13, 2019
so the protesters waited until Biden was about to talk about his wife and daughter dying to start shouting
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) September 13, 2019
"Losing him was like losing part of my soul," Biden on Beau... Pretty unfortunate that the protesters would choose that moment to scream.
— Randi Marshall (@randimarshall) September 13, 2019
This is the second time protestors have interrupted a presidential primary debate. In July, protestors interrupted CNN’s debate in Detroit by protests about immigration and the New York City police department.