SAN RAFAEL, California – It was noisy 90 minutes in Marin County when a Congressional Town Hall in the Bay Area was stormed Tuesday night and disrupted by anti-vaccine and pro-Donald Trump protesters. Rep. Jared Huffman struggled to run his first in-person city hall in a year amid the disruption.
Congressional town halls are generally tame, if not dry, with discussions about politics, but that was before COVID and the polarizing presidential election of 2020.
“Medical freedom now! Was singing at the San Rafael Community Center. Huffman had to yell into the microphone to make himself heard.
“We’ve always had capacity rules for gatherings. We’ve always had common sense limits on gatherings and I’m sorry some of them rub you the wrong way. But that’s not a right. It’s not apartheid. It’s not the Holocaust, ”Huffman tried to reason through the shouting crowd.
About 100 people responded to the town hall. His audience came face to face with protesters.
“I apologize to everyone who came here to try and have a civil and respectful conversation,” Huffman said as a woman with a sign that read “All ferrets are dead.” No passport, no question ‘sat on the stage in front of him.
Protesters were upset that vaccination cards were originally required for admission and capacity was limited for physical distancing.
“We are the taxpayers. He is our servant. It is not going the other way,” said one protester.
People offered proof of vaccination, but it ended up being an honor system situation.
Huffman didn’t bring up his first topic until protesters flocked. Huffman was clearly frustrated.
“Please respect distance from others and the masking rules, but I can see you’re not going to do that either,” Huffman said.
At one point, the woman with the ferret sign stuck her tongue to a man’s face and tried to tear off his mask. She defended her actions by saying, “Civil disobedience won’t be beautiful all the time,” said Keegan Steadwell of Point Reyes. “The idea is that you are disrupting the flow from day to day.”
“Please don’t be physically with each other,” Huffman tried to implore protesters to calm down at the microphone.
“To see it at my door, yes they are entitled to their opinions, but do it with a civilian approach,” said Jim Davis, who was the man Steadwelll faced when she tried to take her. mask. As Davis spoke to KTVU on camera, an anti-vaccine protester saw the opportunity to convey her message via a sign to the camera that read: “The Huffman event violates civil codes on medical confidentiality.”
“It was just ugly,” Davis said.
San Rafael police stayed nearby.
Huffman preferred to make his way.
“You don’t want to bring in the police and have a heavy hand. You know they’re going to pretend they’re victims,” Huffman said.
He thanked his constituents who tried to hear about these issues. He said those who cut him off were outrageous and their tactics were a page in Donald Trump’s playbook.
“Just because you’re really loud, rude, and disruptive doesn’t mean you’re right or you’re the majority,” Huffman said.
Huffman has said he will not abandon his public forums or abandon public health guidelines.