Angry constituents vent to cardboard Senators in Cary

Joel Brown Image
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Town Hall participants spout anger
A packed Cary town hall was filled with participants, but only cardboard portraits of NC's two senators.

CARY, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The line to enter Cary's Herbert C. Young Community Center was wrapped around the building. They came bearing anger and outrage about what they call President Donald Trump's "erratic agenda." They had hopes the meeting would send a message to their representatives in Congress.

"So, we're here to say no more! No more!" Elena Celebrio told the crowd.

The room of 250 people reached max capacity. At least 50 people waiting outside had to be turned away by the fire marshal. All of them came to listen or sound off against what they see as the disturbing first month of Trump's presidency.

"I stand with you and I want you to stand with me shoulder to shoulder fighting against hate, bigotry, homophobia, islamophobia, xenophobia," Faisel Khan, a community organizer, told the gathering.

Some held signs of protest against the president's promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act, regulation rollbacks at the EPA, and the travel ban against seven mostly-Muslim countries.

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But the town hall's two invited guests - Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis -- were not in the room.

Instead the group posted cardboard portraits of the two Republican lawmakers, along with two empty chairs in their places. The group is urging the two U.S. senators from N.C. to push back against the president's agenda.

"We won't stand for it, we won't hear of it. You don't want to listen to us, but you will hear us," Celebrio said speaking directly to the pictures of Tillis and Burr.

The senators' offices cited scheduling conflicts for their absence.

Tillis posted pictures on Twitter of his previously-scheduled Wednesday tour of the U.S.-Mexico border with federal border agents.

Wednesday night's meeting in Cary comes as congressmembers nationwide face a barrage of raucous town halls in front of angry constituents.

President Trump pushed back against the gatherings in a tweet -- calling them, "so-called angry crowds ... in numerous cases planned out by liberal activists. Sad!"

Those gathered in Cary insist their efforts are grassroots -- emerging locally on Facebook in the days following President Trump's election win.

A staff member at Tillis' office told ABC 11 that Tillis holds regular meetings with constituents in North Carolina and in Washington -- including telephone town halls that allow him to reach thousands of constituents at a moment's notice.

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