SARTELL, Minn – People lined up more than three hours in advance of Congressman Tom Emmer’s town hall meeting on Wednesday night.
Protesters, calling themselves “Resist” led the charge to disrupt local town hall meetings of Republican congress members throughout the country.
Line outside Emmer town hall. Doors open in 45 min. 76 seats in meeting room. pic.twitter.com/kKD76DOo73
— Erin Golden (@golden_erin) February 22, 2017
Emmer’s office issued a press release stating if things became disruptive, the town hall would be shut down.
“Behavior that goes beyond the bounds of civil discourse is threatening to drive into extinction the civic institution known as a town-hall meeting,” said a press release from the Congressman’s office.
The town hall was relatively peaceful with few outbursts when constituents did not agree with Emmer. Instead of voicing their displeasure, many attendees had signs with the words “agree” and “disagree.” Attendees would raise the signs based on their viewpoints with either questions or comments made by Emmer.
Emmer received applause for answers he gave on various topics. Protesters and supporters alike asked questions ranging from immigration, climate change, healthcare, and terrorism.
Protesters who did not make it inside for the event could be heard chanting, “Do Your Job” inside the meeting.
One Somali constituent spoke of his friendship with Emmer. He asked the Congressman, “When you go back to Washington, will you tell the President that you know a Muslim, he has two kids – a three-year-old and a one-year-old and they are no threat to this country. They love this country and they want to serve this country. That’s all I’m asking, that’s why I’m here tonight.”
Later, Emmer confirmed his support for postmen when asked by a mailman if he would continue to support postal workers in their efforts to keep six-day mail routes and removing the 75-year reserve on their current pension plan.
At the end of the town hall meeting, a young Hispanic student named Gladys Gutierrez interrupted Emmer’s closing remarks claiming Emmer’s people refused to call on her because of her skin color and demanded she be heard. Gutierrez tried to force Emmer to agree to introduce legislation for immigration reform for those who are already residing in the United States.
Emmer reminded her of their previous conversations and stated that the current administration was prepared to review all immigration laws at the federal level. Emmer said he would be a part of the discussion looking at and reviewing all immigration laws as they exist. “Let’s make sure we have a system that works for everybody” Emmer replied.
Speaking with attendees afterwards, people gave mixed reviews of the town hall. Some attendees expressed their displeasure with Emmer’s responses and claimed they didn’t get enough time for answers. Others expressed their support for the Congressman and thanked him for holding the meeting when other Republicans in the state would not. On Wednesday, a meet-and-greet for Rep. Jason Lewis was canceled by the owner of the Downtowner Woodfire Grill after protesters lined up outside the restaurant.
The evening in Sartell ended peacefully and orderly with supporters and protesters disbursing quickly without incident.