More than 13 million fans tuned in to ABC on Monday for the premiere of “Dancing With the Stars” Season 23. While Ryan Lochte and Cheryl Burke’s performance was highly anticipated, viewers got more drama than they bargained for when protesters stormed the stage during the live show.
ABC was able to keep the confrontation from airing on television sets across the nation, releasing the shocking footage the following day. According to CNN the two men, who were quickly apprehended by security inside the venue, have been identified as Barzeen Soroudi and Sam Sotoodeh. They were joined in protest by four women sitting in the audience wearing the same anti-Lochte shirts they donned during their 15 seconds of fame. While the incident played out, ABC News reports that the women chanted negative things about the swimmer. The two men were then handed off to the Los Angeles Police Department who “accepted [them] and booked them.” It remains unclear if they are still in police custody. They are said to have been protesting Lochte for “endangering Americans” during a drunken incident outside the Olympic village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which he later exaggerated the details of.
“They were arrested on trespassing, this was a private person’s arrest as the security at the venue made the arrest,” LAPD said in a statement issued to CNN.
Host Tom Bergeron, who was standing with Lochte and Burke when the incident occurred, has expressed his gratitude to the security team multiple times. On Monday he made a virtual appearance on “Good Morning America” to discuss newly released footage of the protesters being apprehended. The footage shows one man on the ground with security on top of him while the other is tackled as he attempts to step in front of the camera. Bergeron said both men were screened before being allowed to sit in the audience and passed the test. He also suggested that they must have arrived at the show with shirts over their anti-Lochte tees. Bergeron later thanked security for acting quickly, protecting him, the judges and the “DWTS” cast.
The incident occurred shortly after Lochte and Burke took the stage for their first dance. Each couple was tasked with performing a cha cha routine to a song of their choosing. Lochte and Burk opted to further drive home their desire for fans to view the disgraced athlete in a new light by hitting the stage to a revamped version of Frank Sinatra’s “Call Me Irresponsible.” Their routine was not nearly as flawless as fans hoped it would be, but impressed none the less. They scored 24 out of 40 overall.
“DWTS” airs Mondays, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC, giving contestants one more chance to prove their dance skills. The first elimination will take place during an episode slated to air Tuesday, Sept. 20.