Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC

By Patrick Gomez Natalie Stone
September 12, 2016 11:10 PM

Derek Hough defended his “home” Monday evening after two Ryan Lochte protesters rushed the ballroom floor during the Dancing with the Stars season 23 premiere.

Two men – who both donned white Lochte t-shirts with a red circle and line through his name – walked in front of host Tom Bergeron and yelled into the camera after Lochte’s performance. Bergeron announced the show would go to commercial break as the men were apprehended by security and escorted out. During the commercial break, four women in similar shirts as the men continued to boo until Hough ran out on stage and yelled “get them out of here” to security.

“This is my home and I was just so shocked that people would come here and be so negative,” Hough, 31, exclusively tells PEOPLE. “This is a safe place for people to learn a new skill and seek redemption or start a new chapter in their life and that’s what Ryan is trying to do and I just felt so defensive that someone would try and ruin that for him and for everyone watching, so I took it upon myself to make sure they were escorted out. I wanted to protect my home.”

As Lochte and his partner Cheryl Burke listened to judges critique their Foxtrot, the two men rushed the floor in protest of the six-time Olympic medalist. The older of the two men yelled into the camera and was tackled by security guards, which pushed him into Lochte, Burke and Bergeron.

While cameras quickly cut to commercial break, Burke could be seen crying from behind-the-scenes as Lochte appeared to be shaken up while the audience chanted his name.

Fellow contestant Jana Kramer told PEOPLE of the incident: “Ryan was backstage and close to tears. Everyone makes mistakes and I really hope America gets to see the guy we are all getting to know, which is a really, really nice guy.”

Professional dancer Lindsay Arnold said she was in “shock” after learning about the protesters. “I was backstage and when I heard the commotion I ran to the side of the stage and I was just in shock. I couldn’t believe it was happening,” Kramer said. “I think it’s a shame that people would feel the need to do that. Ryan is just a guy who is coming here to entertain and get a fresh start and it’s sad that such a happy night of dance was disrupted like that.”

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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