David Duke Melts Down, Protesters Get Pepper Sprayed at Louisiana Senate Debate

Protestors slap and kick a car transporting David Duke after a U.S. senate debate at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana on Nov. 2. (Image via AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

In case you haven’t heard, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, after receiving a resurgence of mild attention during Donald Trump’s presidential race, is running for U.S. Senate in Louisiana. Last night’s debate was held at historically black New Orleans college Dillard University, where Duke railed against Jews, black people, Hillary Clinton, and debate moderator John Snell.

The debate hall was empty, and CBS reports that students, protesters and reporters were barred from entering the room. Duke, polling at 5 percent, was allowed to participate alongside five other more established candidates for Louisiana’s open Senate seat belonging to retiring (and scandal-plagued) Republican Sen. David Vitter. According to the Hill, university officials say they didn’t know who would be participating in the debate when the space was booked, although they would not confirm that the space was empty because of Duke.


In the debate, Duke got into a shrieking fight with the moderator, referred to Jews as a “strong, powerful tribal group that dominates our media, dominates our international banking” while clarifying that “I’m not opposed to all Jews,” suggested Hillary Clinton be subjected to the electric chair, and referred to the protesters outside as “radicals who are destroying America.” Obviously, he drew fire from the other candidates; Democratic candidate Caroline Fayard, in a particularly evocative turn, called him a snake who “slithered out of the swamp.”


Meanwhile, outside of the debate hall, CBS reports that the group of 60-70 protestors were pepper sprayed multiple times by police trying to prevent them from forcing their way inside. According to local CBS affiliate WWL-TV, a number of students were crying.

“They’re allowing a terrorist, a neo-Nazi Ku Klux Klan member to be secured in a building in which we paid thousands of dollars to attend annually,” political science major Breial Kennedy, who was briefly detained after trying to enter the building, told NPR.


Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified the name of Dillard University.

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Ellie Shechet

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.