Wednesday 20 September 2017

WATCH: Dozens of graduates walk out of Mike Pence speech

Harriet Alexander

Around 150 students have walked out of their own graduation ceremony in protest at Mike Pence's speech to the crowd.

Mr Pence, the vice president, had just begun speaking at Notre Dame university, a Catholic institution in his home state of Indiana, when the students stood up and left.

The university was prepared for the protest, after students had written to the chancellor to ask that Donald Trump not be invited to speak.

Staff did not attempt to stop the silent walk-out, and Mr Pence continued speaking throughout.

Cassandra Dimaro, a who studied English and liberal studies, said the walkout was a show of solidarity "for those of us impacted by the policies of the Trump administration as well as the rhetoric the Trump administration has used."

She held a bouquet of flowers, and her cap was lined in rainbow colours and read: “Here, queer, get over it.”

Her parents, Bill and Sue Dimaro, of Dallas, also walked out of the ceremony.

"We love our daughter and we support her," said Mr Dimaro, speaking to an Indiana local newspaper, the South Bend Tribune.

"We need to show the world that there has to be tolerance, and we need to me more inclusive and wrap our arms around one another, even if we have different beliefs.

"I’m standing with my chest puffed out right now for what she (Cassandra) did."

Another student, Erin McNamee, didn't walk out but instead stood in the front row with her back turned to the vice president. The top of her cap featured rainbow stripes and the phrase "I am unbreakable."

Before the commencement ceremony began, dozens of protesters lined the street leading to the campus, holding signs and voicing their objections to Mr Pence's staunchly-conservative views on abortion, gay rights, gun control and immigration.

But the university, with its strong Catholic core, has also been the scene of anti-abortion protests - such as one in 2009, when Barack Obama was invited to give the address.

Joe Biden's speech last year was also marked by protest.

Telegraph.co.uk

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