Dalton Goode stood alongside 20 or so other protesters outside of U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers’ office at the federal courthouse in Anniston on Tuesday and said the lawmaker ought to meet with constituents face-to-face.
Goode, a 23-year-old student at Jacksonville State University, and the others standing along Noble Street on Tuesday said Rogers hasn’t agreed to hold a town hall meeting, and his staff hasn’t told them whether Rogers will.
“It’s really upsetting,” Goode said. “He usually held town halls before, when more of the outrage was towards Obama and people weren’t out here protesting against him.”
Goode pointed to other Republican legislators across the country who are also either refusing to hold town halls or limiting them. It’s a party problem, Goode said.
At a town hall event in Graniteville, S.C., Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who famously yelled “You Lie” at President Barack Obama during a televised broadcast of Obama’s speech before a joint session of Congress, met with similar jeers.
Audience members at the Monday event shouted “you lie!” at Wilson over Wilson’s support of repealing the Affordable Care Act, according to news accounts of the event.
Other Republican lawmakers have faced similar protests at public forums this week during a break for Congress, according to news accounts.
Karen Barwick, another of the Anniston protesters, said the group standing Tuesday on Noble has protested outside the courthouse before, and held a town hall without Rogers in May, and that “we’ll continue to come until we feel like we’ve been heard,”
“Even though we have asked countless times, through phone calls and written requests, for a meeting or a town hall event...they are not able to tell of us any events that he will attend. We’re very concerned about that,” Barwick said.
Asked about when Rogers plans a town hall and where he’ll be during the recess, spokeswoman for the congressman emailed the following statement to The Star: “This year, the House of Representatives’ voting calendar is busier than usual with our work focused on implementing President Trump's agenda. The district schedule is also busy with previously scheduled events as far back as last year, but as always, when town hall events are scheduled in East Alabama, we will certainly announce it.”
Barwick said many of the statements Rogers makes critical of the Affordable Care Act run counter to what she and other constituents have told him in letters and emails about their support of the health care act.
Barwick said she believes Rogers doesn’t feel the need to hear from his constituents, and that “our lives’ situations change from time to time, and he needs to be in tune with his constituents.”
Barwick said she and the others have asked Rogers’ office how they can learn where he’ll be, or whether he’ll hold a public meeting, but are told to “check with his Twitter feed and Facebook daily.”
But there's no public announcement of where Rogers will be, and posts to social media of his events typically are done after the event takes place, Barwick said.
Barwick said she understands Rogers will be visiting the Anniston Army Depot later this month, but that the event is not open to the public.
“This is his time to be in his district,” Barwick said.
Goode said he chose to stand on the corner, sign in hand, because, “It shows people passing by in the local community that there’s other people who are just as mad as they are.”
“Hopefully it makes a difference, and shows that Rogers has some backlash for the policies that he’s supporting,” Goode said.
Goode said he’s concerned about Rogers’ plan to remove the U.S. from the United Nations, “which is really the craziest thing to me. The organizations are vital to international security.” Rogers filed a bill to do so in January.