Tracey Venable had her say.
And so did Harold Curtis and hundreds of others at Howard University students during a convocation address by former FBI Director James Comey on Friday.
“We had to let him know that he’s responsible for the mess we’re in with President Donald Trump,” said Venable, a sophomore. “What he did to Hillary Clinton was wrong, illegal, and that’s a primary reason Trump was able to steal the election.”
Fellow sophomore Curtis agreed.
“No one should let Comey forget, least of all our community,” Curtis said.
As Comey began his speech welcoming new students at Howard University, protesters could be heard from the back of the room, raising their fists and shouting.
Some of the slogans shouted were “No justice, no peace,” “We shall not be moved” and “white supremacy is not a debate.”
Standing before a packed auditorium, Comey stood silently for over 15 minutes as the students yelled, “I love being Black,” and “Get out James Comey — you’re not our homie,” CNN reported.
“I love the enthusiasm of young folks, but I wish they understood what a conversation is,” Comey said as the students continued to chant, sing and clap throughout his entire speech.
He said that he had received a number of invitations to speak over the past several months, but “chose to come here.”
“I look forward to adult conversations about what is right and what is true,” Comey concluded, as he ended to a standing ovation.
As holder of the school’s Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King endowed chair in public policy, Comey is slated to give a number of speeches during the following year, CNN reported.
His role at Howard will include engaging the Howard community through a lecture series “designed to foster fruitful discussion and spur meaningful interaction,” according to a university press release.
Howard freshman Nayla Hale, a member of HU Resist, said that students were specifically troubled by Comey’s views on the so-called “Ferguson effect,” which suggests police officers use restraint out of concern over being videotaped during violent confrontations.
“James Comey represents an institution diametrically opposed to the interests of Black people,” Hale said. “The ‘Ferguson Effect,’ for example, is an outright racist lie designed to undermine Black Liberation Movement.”
But other students told CNN the protesters went about it the wrong way.
“What just happened is not the Howard way at all,” said freshman Brittiany Royster. “I wanted to hear him out. I love being Black, but I also love being Black and educated. And in order to do that, is to choose intellect over ignorance — you have to keep an open mind and hear all parties out.”
Trump’s name was not mentioned by any speakers Friday, though the political climate during his administration was a theme in others’ remarks.
“There’s great crisis our nation,” said Rev. Dr. Bernard L. Richardson, as Comey bowed his head during the opening prayer.
“Truth is being rendered irrelevant,” Richardson said, sparking a church-like call-and-response from the audience, which said, “That’s right.”
The former FBI head has mostly stayed out of the spotlight since his dramatic testimony before the Senate intelligence committee in June — one of the more significant moments in the ongoing saga over Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
CNN reported earlier that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has requested the White House turn over any documents related to Comey’s dismissal, as well as information connected to an Oval Office meeting in which Trump told Russian officials that firing Comey eased pressure on his White House.