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A brief history of interrupting public figures

Mario Draghi heckled onstage
A protester jumps on the table in front of the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi during a news conference in Frankfurt, April 15, 2015.
Ralph Orlowski | Reuters

A protester briefly disrupted a Wednesday press conference with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, jumping up on the table in front of Draghi while wearing a shirt calling for the end of the "ECB dick-tatorship."

The protester also appeared to dump white paper confetti on the central bank chief.

Security wrestled the woman away, and she was reportedly removed from the premises.

Draghi's onstage interruption is not unique. Ridiculing public figures at important moments is a long-standing tradition, and rushing the stage, heckling, even throwing a pie in the face are all favored tactics of protestors. Here are some memorable interruptions.

By Paul Toscano and Robert Ferris
Updated April 15, 2015

Bill Gates
Position: CEO, Microsoft While on a visit to Brussels, Belgium to visit EU to give a speech on education, Bill Gates was struck in the face with four pies. The event occurred as Microsoft was being investigated for antitrust violations, but the prankster responsible for the pie incident, Noel Godin, had gained notoriety in Europe for his public pie-ings of the rich and famous, gaining the nickname "L'entarteur," or "the Pieman."
Photo: Getty Images

While on a visit to Brussels, Belgium, to visit the European Union to give a speech on education, Bill Gates was struck in the face with four pies. The event occurred as Microsoft was being investigated for antitrust violations, but the prankster responsible for the pie incident, Noel Godin, had gained notoriety in Europe for his public pie-ings of the rich and famous, gaining the nickname "L'entarteur," or "the Pieman."

Ann Coulter
Position: Author, Commentator Another public figure targeted by a pie was conservative author and political commentator Anne Coulter during a speech at the University of Arizona. Coulter was hit in the face and the shoulder with pies thrown by Phillip Edgar Smith and William Zachary Wolff, who were later charged with disorderly conduct, vandalism and assault without injury. The pie throwers stated that they were “throwing the pies at her ideas, not her,” according to police documents.
Photo: Getty ImagesInset: Youtube

Another public figure targeted by a pie was conservative author and political commentator Anne Coulter during a speech at the University of Arizona. Coulter was hit in the face and the shoulder with pies thrown by Phillip Edgar Smith and William Zachary Wolff, who were later charged with disorderly conduct, vandalism, and assault without injury. The assailants stated that they were “throwing the pies at her ideas, not her,” according to police documents.

Jeff Skilling
Position: CEO, Enron Perhaps most deserving of a pie to the face is Jeff Skilling, one of the masterminds behind one of the biggest corporate fraud schemes in history, which eventually brought down Enron. The pie was delivered by documentary filmmaker Francine Cavanaugh in San Francisco in 2001. However, at the time of the pie incident, Enron’s fraud had not yet been revealed and Cavanaugh pied Skilling to protest the profits his company was making as a result of California’s energy crisis.
Photo: Getty Images

Former Enron president Jeff Skilling is best known as one of the masterminds behind one of the biggest corporate fraud schemes in U.S. history, eventually leading to the demise of Enron. The pie was delivered by documentary filmmaker Francine Cavanaugh in San Francisco in 2001.

However, at the time of the pie incident, Enron’s fraud had not yet been revealed and Cavanaugh pied Skilling to protest the profits his company was making as a result of California’s energy crisis.

Ralph Nader
Position: Politician, Activist In 2003, politician and activist Ralph Nader appeared at the Green Party’s San Francisco headquarters to endorse Peter Camejo in a runoff election for California governor. Nader, who some blamed for helping George W. Bush win the White House against Al Gore in 2000, received a pie to the face from an unhappy voter. The pie culprit fled the building out of a side door and was not apprehended.
Photo: Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty ImagesInset: Youtube

In 2003, politician and activist Ralph Nader appeared at the Green Party’s San Francisco headquarters to endorse Peter Camejo in a runoff election for California governor. Nader, who some blamed for helping George W. Bush win the White House against Al Gore in 2000, received a pie to the face from an unhappy voter. The pie culprit fled the building out a side door and was not apprehended.

Carl Levin
Position: US Senator Of the many US politicians hit by pies, one of the most recent is the Senator from Michigan, Carl Levin. On August 16, 2010 in Big Rapids, Michigan, Carl Levin was holding a question and answer meeting at a local diner with constituents. At one point in the meeting, a woman named Ahlam Mohsen approached the senator while another individual read a lengthy statement accusing the Senate Armed Services chairman of war crimes. Mohsen threw a Dutch apple pie at the senator - notab
Photo: Getty Images

Of the many U.S. politicians hit by pies, one of the most recent is the Democrat senator from Michigan, Carl Levin. On Aug. 16, 2010, in Big Rapids, Mich., Levin was holding a question and answer meeting at a local diner with constituents. At one point in the meeting, a woman named Ahlam Mohsen approached the senator, while another individual read a lengthy statement accusing the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman of war crimes. Mohsen threw a Dutch apple pie at the senator—notably without any sort of cream on top—and was later charged with assault and disorderly conduct.

Jim Rhodes
Position: Ohio Governor In protest for the 1970 Kent State Shootings, a member of the counterculture Youth International Party pied then-governor Jim Rhodes at the Ohio State Fair in 1977. Rhodes came to national notoriety when he ordered the National Guard to Kent, Ohio in response to peace demonstrations in the town, following from the American invasion of Cambodia. Four unarmed students were killed by the Ohio National Guard, sparking a significant national response.
Photo: Ohio Historical Society

In protest for the 1970 Kent State Shootings, a member of the counterculture Youth International Party pied then-governor Jim Rhodes at the Ohio State Fair in 1977. Rhodes came to national notoriety when he ordered the National Guard to Kent, Ohio, in response to peace demonstrations in the town protesting the American invasion of Cambodia. Four unarmed students were killed by the Ohio National Guard, sparking a significant national response.

George Ryan
Position: Governor of Illiniois While speaking with reporters in a public forum in Carbondale, Illinois, the state’s now-former governor George Ryan was pied. Ryan’s administration had been clouded by scandal and was traveling the state speaking to constituents on a road show. While the governor left the stage at Carbondale City Hall, a female protestor walked through the crowd and pushed a pie into Ryan’s face. The protestor, Dawn Roberts, was charged with aggravated assault and the incident ca
Photo: Getty Images

While speaking with reporters in a public forum in Carbondale, Ill., the state’s now-former governor George Ryan was pied. Ryan’s administration had been clouded by scandal and he was traveling the state speaking to constituents on a road show. When the governor left the stage at Carbondale City Hall, a female protestor walked through the crowd and pushed a pie into Ryan’s face. The protestor, Dawn Roberts, was charged with aggravated assault and the incident caused Ryan to bump up his security detail.

Gerald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal
In June 2002, another political leader to get a pie to the face was Gerald Tremblay, the mayor of Montreal, Canada. At the end of press conference discussing the future of Montreal, Tremblay was wrapping up his remarks when a man walked up behind him and shoved a pie in his face. The assailant called himself “Pop Tart”, according to CBC News Canada, said that he pied the mayor because he has been “dishonest with the public.” Tremblay continued the press conference, wiping the cream off his suit
Photo: Louis Acosta | AFP | Getty Images

In June 2002, another political leader to get a pie to the face was Gerald Tremblay, the mayor of Montreal. At the end of the press conference discussing the city's future, a man walked up behind him and shoved a pie in his face. The assailant called himself “Pop Tart,” according to CBC News Canada, and said he pied the mayor because he has been “dishonest with the public.” Tremblay finished the press conference, wiping the cream off his suit. Despite his alleged dishonesty, Tremblay remains the mayor of Montreal.

James Wolfensohn
Position: Former President, World Bank During his tenure as President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn was also the victim of a public pie-ing. Wolfensohn had a pie smeared across his face and another pie simultaneously thrown at him by two members of the “Artic Pie Team” during a press conference in Helsinki, Finland. The event occurred in March 2001, leaving Wolfensohn with the distinction of being the first high-profile victim to be pied on Finnish soil. Wolfensohn decided not to press cha
Photo: Getty ImagesInset: Kulma.net

During his tenure as president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn was also the victim of a public pie-ing. Wolfensohn had a pie smeared across his face and another pie simultaneously thrown at him by two members of the “Arctic Pie Team” during a press conference in Helsinki, Finland. The event occurred in March 2001, leaving Wolfensohn with the distinction of being the first high-profile victim to be pied on Finnish soil. Wolfensohn decided not to press charges.

Thomas Friedman
Position: Op-Ed Columnist, New York Times During a speech at Brown University in 2008, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was hit with a pie. Just moments into his speech on innovation as a solution to climate and energy sustainability, two environmental activists stormed the stage with paper plates containing green colored whipped cream. Friedman ducked and was only struck on his back and pant leg by the cream. The protestors ran out of the room, tossing fliers in the air stating that “Th
Photo: Ramin Talaie | Bloomberg | Getty ImagesInset: Youtube

During a speech at Brown University in 2008, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was hit with a pie. Just moments into his speech on innovation as a solution to climate and energy sustainability, two environmental activists stormed the stage with paper plates containing green-colored whipped cream. Friedman ducked and was only struck on his back and pant leg by the cream. The protestors ran out of the room, tossing fliers in the air stating: “Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face because of his sickeningly cheery applaud for free market capitalism’s conquest of the planet…”

Friedman was able to finish his speech after a short break and the students responsible were apprehended.

Willie Brown
Position: Mayor of San Francisco In November 1998, then-mayor Willie Brown was simultaneously hit with a cherry, pumpkin and tofu pies whilve giving a speech in the city. The assailants were protesting the mayor’s policies on homelessness and decided to take it up with him by throwing an assortment of pastries. In what was perhaps a not-so landmark sentencing, a jury deliberated for over a day about whether “throwing a pie can be regarded as an act of comedy and not as an act of battery,” accord
Photo: Tim Mosenfelder | Getty ImagesInset: LiveLeak.com

In November 1998, San Francisco's then-mayor Willie Brown was simultaneously hit with cherry, pumpkin and tofu pies while giving a speech in the city. The assailants were protesting the mayor’s policies on homelessness and decided to take it up with him by throwing an assortment of pastries. In what was perhaps a not-so-landmark sentencing, a jury deliberated for over a day about whether “throwing a pie can be regarded as an act of comedy and not as an act of battery,” according to the Los Angeles Times, which reported the assailants were ultimately convicted of battery, which carried a six-month jail term.