Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., was interrupted when protesters arrived to chant, “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace.”
Rowdy protesters crashed Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s “work dinner” at a Mexican restaurant on Tuesday night and left her speechless.
The demonstrators marched into the MXDC restaurant in Washington around 8 p.m. and confronted Nielsen and her dinner companion on the Trump administration policy she defended allowing migrant kids to be taken from their parents.
“How can you enjoy a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting, imprisoning tens and thousands of people who come here seeking asylum?” a man bellowed.
Nielsen refused to acknowledge the protesters and stared at her food instead, according to video of the encounter. She never touched her cutlery and only moved to make a phone call as Secret Service agents stopped the protesters from stepping closer.
Protesters rallied for about 10 minutes, alternating between chants of “shame” and “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace.”
Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America took credit for the stunt.
“We will not stand by and let Secretary Nielsen dine in peace while she is directing her employees to tear little girls away from their mothers and crying boys away from their fathers at our border,” said activist Margaret McLaughlin in a statement.
Erica Olmstead, who witnessed the demonstration unfold, said some patrons at the intimate eatery joined the protesters in clapping and chanting. Others kept eating and were visibly “ambivalent.”
“She was in the corner on her phone, just staring at her phone. Not engaging at all,” Olmstead told the Daily News.
The restaurant staff, according to Olmstead, stayed out of the way.
An employee who picked up the phone confirmed that the protesters were inside but referred all questions to a manager, who stepped out after the protest.
Metropolitan police were dispatched to the restaurant but there were no arrests, according to police and protest organizers. Nielsen left the restaurant soon after the protest ended.
“I don’t think she’ll be back,” Olmstead said.
Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton acknowledged the protest and suggested in a tone-deaf tweet that Nielsen feels the same as those upset with the immigration debacle.
“The secretary and her staff heard from a small group of protesters who share her concern with our current immigration laws that have created a crisis on our southern border,” Houlton wrote.
Nielsen, speaking through Houlton, said her protesters should reach out to lawmakers instead.
President Trump took to Twitter after the demonstration to laud Nielsen’s contentious White House briefing Monday.
“Homeland Security SecNielsen did a fabulous job yesterday at the press conference explaining security at the border and for our country while at the same time recommending changes to obsolete & nasty laws,” Trump tweeted. “We want ‘heart’ and security in America!”