A group of graduating students at the University of Notre Dame are planning to silently walk out of Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement address this Sunday.
The demonstration, organized by the student activist group We Stand For, is meant to protest Mr. Pence’s policies as Indiana governor, including his signature of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015.
“We invite all students, faculty, and families who will be attending the Commencement ceremony to walk out with us as we take back our graduation and show our dissatisfaction with the University’s selection of Mike Pence as honored speaker,” reads a Facebook event page for the protest, which says more than 100 people have agreed to participate.
“We also will walk out in dignity and solidarity with all marginalized people affected by Pence’s politics, both on this campus and throughout our nation,” the page says.
Luis Miranda, a co-organizer of the walkout, told CNN that Sunday’s demonstration will also be a protest against President Trump. Mr. Miranda said some of his family members who are in the U.S. illegally have felt threatened by the current administration’s immigration policies.
“They are going to be in the audience in one of the most important moments of my life with someone targeting them for who they are,” he said.
Protesters plan to stand up “as soon as Pence begins speaking” and walk toward the nearest exit “quietly but deliberately,” the Facebook page states.
Paul Browne, a spokesperson for Notre Dame, told CNN that administrators are “not concerned” about the walkout.
“We think they will be respectful in the way they express their differences with the administration,” he said.
Mr. Browne said walkout organizers cleared the protest with police and administrators ahead of time.
“We would intervene in any protest only if the ceremony was seriously disrupted or anyone’s safety was put at risk,” he told the South Bend Tribune. “We expect neither.”
Local protest groups We Go High!, Michiana Alliance for Democracy, South Bend Equality and Planned Parenthood Community Action Partners of Northwestern Indiana also plan to protest outside of Mr. Pence’s speech. Organizers told the Tribune they expect as many as 1,000 participants.
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