A fundraiser for President Obama at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco on Thursday morning was disrupted when a woman who was protesting the treatment of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning broke into song and interrupted Obama’s remarks, according to pool reports from the event. She was later escorted out.
The woman was at a table with 10 other protesters, all of whom reportedly paid the $35,800 ticket fee to gain access to the event. They passed around signs reading “Free Bradley Manning” or containing a photo of the soldier, who has been accused of leaking materials to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Manning is being held in a military detention facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
After the fundraiser, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Obama said, "You don't get that every day" and that he thought the protest was "funny," even though it interrupted the flow of his remarks.
When Obama tried to get the woman to postpone her song, she told him that the protesters had just donated $5,000 to his campaign--the tickets for the event were divided into $30,800 for the Democratic National Committee and $5,000 for the Obama campaign. Obama then turned to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was at the fundraiser, and asked whether she had arranged this. “Pelosi had a look on her face, as she stared at the singing group,” pool reporter Carol Lee of The Wall Street Journal wrote, “that said she did not.”
U.S. Secret Service and White House staff escorted out the woman who led the table in song. Two others at the table left on their own, and the rest stayed until the end of Obama’s speech.
A later report by Lee provided the lyrics to the protesters’ song:
Dear Mr. President, we honor you today, sir
Each of us brought you $5,000
It takes a lot of Benjamins to run a campaign
I paid my dues, where's our change?
We'll vote for you in 2012, yes that's true
Look at the Republicans--what else can we do?
Even though we don't know if we'll retain our liberties
In what you seem content to call a free society
Yes it's true that Terry Jones is legally free
To burn a people's holy book in shameful effigy
But at another location in this country
Alone in a 6x12 cell sits Bradley
23 hours a day is night
The 5th and 8th amendments say this kind of thing ain't right
We paid our dues, where's our change?