The Rev. Al Sharpton was forced to cut short a press conference near the migrant encampment at Del Rio, Texas Thursday after he was repeatedly heckled as he tried to speak.
Sharpton, the founder of the National Action Network, toured the area around the International Bridge — which links Del Rio with Ciudad Acuña, Mexico and under which thousands of migrants, many of them originally from Haiti, had congregated in recent days.
The heckling, which the Washington Examiner reported came from at least two men in the audience, began as Sharpton introduced members of his traveling party and continued as he spoke about what he saw on his tour.
“How much money are you making out of this?” asked one heckler.
“Why are you stoking racism where it doesn’t exist?” asked another. “Why are you here advocating for violence?”
Initially undeterred, Sharpton gave an initial statement, during which he accused Border Patrol agents of using “slave-like tactics” against migrants who attempted to cross the Rio Grande. Images of officers confronting migrants over the weekend caused outrage in Washington and led the Biden administration to order the suspension of mounted patrols in the area.
“We went for an hour and toured the place that we feel is a real catastrophic and human disgrace as people around this world watch the Border Patrol use slave-like techniques — mounted on horses,” Sharpton said. “It compelled us to come and show our voices and our presence.”
As Sharpton spoke, the hecklers stepped up the volume and intensity of their cries.
“Del Rio is not a racist city! Del Rio is a loving, caring community!” they yelled. “We don’t want your racism in Texas! Get out of here! Nobody wants to hear your racist nonsense in Del Rio! You’re a disgrace! You’re a racist! Nobody wants you in Texas! Nobody wants you in Texas!”
Sharpton plowed ahead, saying: “The Trump supporters and the right-wingers can scream all they want,” said Sharpton. “We gon’ continue to come back. We gon’ stand with our people to make sure that asylum [seekers] is treated in one way and one manner. And we will continue to come back over and over again.”
The civil rights activist called for the Border Patrol officers to be “fully investigated” and for “those that were fully involved to face justice,” as well as for “full asylum rights given to those that deserve it.”
All the while, the protesters kept up their relentless heckling.
“We denounce your racism and your hatred!” they cried. “Get out of Texas! Get out of Texas! Our Border Patrol agents are heroes! Our Border Patrol agents are heroes! Get out of here!”
As Sharpton turned away from the microphones after speaking for approximately two-and-a-half minutes, the hecklers sent him off with a final salvo of “race-baiter” and “pay your taxes.”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said Thursday that 4,050 migrants remained at the encampment as of Thursday. The department announced late Wednesday that 1,401 migrants had been deported to Haiti while another 3,206 had been either expelled under the pandemic-induced authority known as Title 42 or released into the US.
Thousands more migrants are believed to have crossed back into Mexico to take their chances on claiming asylum there.