Town hall turmoil as Republicans targeted

20 February 2017
Julia Jones

Republican congressional representatives are under siege at town hall meetings across the US. Hundreds and in some cases thousands of protesters have descended on what usually are low-key affairs between lawmakers and their constituents.

At a 9 February meeting in the Republican and Mormon heartland of Utah, nearly 3,000 locals voiced their discontent with their representative Jason Chaffetz.

People lined up for hours to get a seat in the town hall meeting. While many were more moderate than Chaffetz’s hardcore base, even conservatives called on him to rein in Trump.

Andrew, 46, was one of several attendees to speak via email to Red Flag. “Trump’s actions run afoul of everything I believe our country is supposed to be about”, he said. “If I couldn’t stand up for this, I couldn’t face myself.”

More than 1,000 people packed the hall. When Chaffetz walked into the building, he was loudly booed. His mocking distain for dissenters only energised the crowd. “He was the only one with a mic”, said Kevin, 33. “But we were there for him to hear us.”

Significantly, even Mormons in the crowd were audibly disagreeing with Chaffetz’s answers to the pointed question he received.

One woman said that Trump should be impeached. The hall chanted, “Do your job!”

Meanwhile, outside, the spillover crowd of more than 1,500 started an impromptu rally. For the next few hours, they chanted, “Chaffetz is a coward!” and “This is what democracy looks like!”

Chaffetz ended the meeting early and was booed off the stage. “Walking out of the building, I felt let down”, said Andrea. “But I was met with the energy from those gathered outside and I was hopeful.”

In true Trump style, Chaffetz later claimed they were all paid protesters and an “angry leftist mob”. But it hasn’t stopped people from continuing to take a stand.

“Many who once felt intimidated are finding outlets to express themselves”, said Hailey, 30. “We are inspiring each other to no longer be silent.”

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