NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Candidates running for Michael Grimm’s vacated congressional seat debated in Staten Island on Tuesday night.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, before the candidates could even begin the debate they were interrupted by a protestor shouting ‘I can’t breathe.’

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The first question regarded the Eric Garner case. Republican Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan said he agrees with grand jury secrecy.

“It’s hard to protect witnesses who only come forward because no one will know that they appeared in a grand jury, and no one will know what they’ve said in a grand jury,” he explained.

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Democrat Vincent Gentile countered that the DA could have pushed to open up the process, but didn’t.

“Even though the grand jury is normally secret, secrecy breeds suspicion,” he said.

The Garner case did not play a major role as the candidates went on to answer questions regarding immigration, Iran, and transportation.

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