On Thursday night, the four remaining candidates in the Republican race are meeting for their 11th debate of the season, and this time, it's drawing a vocal reaction: Protesters have arrived at the Fox News GOP debate in Detroit, Michigan, and things are getting rowdy. The site of the demonstrations is right outside the Fox Theatre, and judging from some of the videos and images flowing out of the scene so far, it's looking pretty massive. You wouldn't necessarily know this from Fox News' coverage of the event, however ― as you might expect, they've kept their cameras inside the debate hall, and away from any signs of dissent or discord in the streets.
If you're wondering what this is all about, it's something you may have heard about already. And if you haven't, you should: The Flint, Michigan, water crisis, which has become a flashpoint for activism, has spurred furious denunciation within the Democratic primary, and has prompted calls for the resignation of the state's Republican governor, Rick Snyder. Under Snyder's tenure as governor, the state changed the source of Flint's water to a cheaper alternative, exposing thousands of the city's people to lead poisoning.
The protests have included at least some chants of "shut it down," according to Johnathan Oosting of the Detroit News, and as you can see in the above video from CNN's Dylan Byers, the swell of protesters has brought out the police, as well. According to Fox News' pre-debate broadcast, security is already considerably ramped up at the Fox Theatre, complete with Secret Service agents on-site, and bomb-sniffing dogs ― a highly charged and potentially intimidating situation for on-the-ground activists, in other words.
This is far from the first time that protests have made themselves felt in the Republican primary process. There have also been frequent, organized disruptions at Donald Trump campaign events, sometimes resulting in scary and violent reactions within the crowds, reactions Trump has occasionally encouraged and stoked from his position on stage. In this case, however, the location is crucial. There was precisely no chance that Fox News would get away with holding a Republican debate in Detroit ― just a 70-mile drive from Flint ― without activists making sure the world heard once again about the horrifying situation there.