For Republican Congressman Dave Brat, public town hall events in Virginia’s 7th district continue to set the stage for anti-Trump and anti-GOP displays, both traditional and creative.
Brat, who came into office in 2014 on the back of the Tea Party-wave, has faced jeering crowds during both post-Trump Congressional recesses. A policy wonk and economics professor, Brat tried to use figures and numbers to deflect criticism during a familiarly hostile town hall (read more about that here) Tuesday night in Chesterfield. But outside, a very different kind of protest was held.
Complete with a trumpet blaring “Last Post” and a women in a wheelchair dressed as the Grim Reaper, several dozen protestors, many claiming to be 7th District constituents, lined the streets of Bailey Bridge Rd, draped in Black and lying on the ground in a “die-in.” Their cardboard “grave stones” memorialized the death of their health care under the new Trump/Ryan plan, and criticized Trump’s other, often extraordinary, actions.
Video by Indivisible Midlothian
The protest was organized by Indivisible Richmond, a newly created org that aims to oppose President Trump in any and all of his actions. Members were also present for Brat’s last town hall down in Blackstone, VA, in February.
“We didn’t have a good event to do [the die-in] at,” said Kirsten O’Nell, Lead coordinator for Indivisible Richmond. Brat has made a habit of conducting online town halls over facebook or, as was the case with Blackstone in February, holding town halls in limited venues at the furthest reaches of his freshly-gerrymandered district. “But he had this highly moderated town hall, and it was in an area where a majority of his constituents live, so we said ‘if we can’t get it, we’re going to hold this protest.'”
O’Nell has been with Indivisible Richmond for only a few months but has already taken on an organizing role. While she considers herself a “politics and government nerd,” she admitted this kind of activism was new to her.
“Much like everyone else I was drawn to activism… because we didn’t like the direction we saw the country going in,” she said. “There was racism bubbling up, and its always been there below the surface. It’s just become a lot more accepted than it should be… and the administration is going a lot more towards fascism and it’s not okay.”
O’Nell said a majority of those in attendance disapproved of Brat’s vote in support of the ACHA (read more about the ACHA and the five other Virginia congressman who voted for it here), the Republican bill hoping to roll back Obama care, and the die-in played into that metaphor particularly well.
Keep up with Indivisible Richmond on Facebook here.
Words by Brad Kutner