Our Story Happens Here
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
NPR News

Protesters Interrupt Obama With Song; 'Where's Our Change?' They Ask

Singing "we'll vote for you in 2012, yes that's true; look at the Republicans — what else can we do?" a small group of protesters interrupted President Obama's appearance at a San Francisco fundraiser today with a song that ended with the question "we paid our dues, where's our change?"

NPR's Ari Shapiro reports that "a few minutes into Mr. Obama's comments, a woman stood up and said, 'We wrote a song for you, Mr. President.' Then the table began to sing."

As they did, the group held up signs that said "Free Bradley Manning."

Manning is the Army private suspected of giving classified government data to WikiLeaks.

Their lyrics, which one member of the group gave to reporters, refer to Manning:

"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?"

Jones is the Florida pastor who recently presided over the burning of a Quran.

Ari says the president "seemed to take the protest in stride. When the song ended, he said 'over the last 2 1/2 years change turned out to be tougher than a lot of us expected.' But, he added, 'I could not be prouder of our track record.' "

And the Associated Press writes that after security "removed some of the protesters," Obama jokingly said "that's a nice song. You guys have much better voices than I do."

The AP also notes that "Obama addressed about 200 people who paid up to $35,800 apiece for the fundraiser at a San Francisco hotel, the first of four fundraisers of the day."

Update at 3:05 p.m. ET: Aboard Air Force One this afternoon, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that after the fundraiser Obama said of the musical protest, "You don't get that every day." The president thought the action was "funny," Carney added.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.