A protest rally was staged in front of Representative Chris Collins’ office for the second week in a row on the morning of Tuesday Feb. 2. The aim of the non-partisan rally was to protest the congressman’s perceived absence from the county.
The event is part of a series of “Anti-Trump” or “Stop Trump” Tuesdays held each week at 11:30 a.m., according to a promotion for the event on the progressive advocacy website MoveOn.org. These rallies are scheduled to occur weekly for the first 100 days of President Donald Trump’s term and they are organized by the Livingston County chapter of the activist group Stronger Together WNY.
Rally organizer Jillian Gruber said that the primary goal of these upcoming rallies is to have Collins engage with the community more.
“The problem for us in Livingston County is that Representative Collins never comes to the office here,” she said. “He will be in the district from Feb. 21-24 and the primary goal of this week’s rally and next week’s rally is to get him to hold a town hall meeting during that time. If he doesn’t come to the Geneseo office, we’ll have to go protest his office in Lancaster.”
Tuesday’s protest had approximately 40 attendees, while the previous week’s had approximately 70 attendees, according to Gruber. There were some students from Geneseo, but most of the protesters came from the town of Geneseo and elsewhere.
Psychology major sophomore Lauren Plevy attended the rally in hopes of impacting the local community.
“I think it’s important to act locally, and I want to make a change and I think this is the best way to do that,” she said.
Gruber said that part of the inspiration for “Anti-Trump” Tuesdays spurred from the online instructive pamphlet, the “Indivisible Guide.” This pamphlet is based off the Tea Party protest movement and calls itself “a practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda.” This pamphlet has impacted her method of organizing, Gruber said.
“It is like a cookbook: you do this, you say this, at this time,” she said. “It is really empowering for us, and it’s pretty much become a national movement. The big thing in the guide is to act ‘local, local, local.’”
At Tuesday’s protest, attendees occasionally yelled chants and held signs that were critical of the president and the representative. Since Collins’ office was closed, protesters wrote critical notes and left them on the office door. The notes primarily concerned Collins’ absence from the district and his policies, saying, “Give us a chance to meet” or “This Republican voter is for the EPA.”
Former Geneseo professor of history Judith Hunter echoed protesters’ discontent about the political climate in Washington D.C. as well as Collins’ lack of availability.
“I’m a constituent of Representative Collins,” she said. “In addition to being unhappy about what’s going on in Washington, I’m also unhappy that Chris Collins has never once had a real town hall meeting to interact with his constituents. We have a lot of questions we need to ask him, and he has made himself unavailable.”