Pro­test­ers greet Paul Ryan

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By LEANN SCHENKE lschenke@thekent­coun­tynews.com

Com­mu­nity mem­bers and those with In­di­vis­i­ble of Kent and Queen Anne’s Coun­ties gath­ered out­side Dixon Valve & Cou­pling Co. Thurs­day, Oct. 5, protest­ing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s visit to Ch­ester­town.

CH­ESTER­TOWN — Com­mu­nity mem­bers and those with In­di­vis­i­ble of Kent and Queen Anne’s Coun­ties gath­ered out­side Dixon Valve & Cou­pling Co. Thurs­day, Oct. 5, protest­ing House Speak Paul Ryan’s visit to Ch­ester­town.

“We are not protest­ing Dixon — (CEO) Dick Goodall is a good per­son and has done great things for the com­mu­nity — but we’re mad that Ryan is here,” Cindy Stafford of Bet­ter­ton said. “I’m not sure why he’s here.”

Ryan, along with U.S. Rep. Andy Har­ris, R-Md.-1st, and Jay Tim­mons, CEO of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Man­u­fac­tur­ers, were vis­it­ing Dixon Valve to tout the Repub­li­can plan for tax re­form. The pro­posal aims to grow the econ­omy and the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor.

Stafford is a mem­ber of In­di­vis­i­ble. She said she came to the protest so Ryan could see peo­ple are un­happy with him.

“We’re deal­ing with an ad­min­is­tra­tion that does not speak for us,” Melissa McG­lynn of Ch­ester­town said. “(Pres­i­dent Don­ald) Trump is de­spi­ca­ble, and Ryan won’t stand up against him. It’s our duty then to flex our First Amend­ment right.”

About 50 pro­test­ers be­gan to line both sides of High Street about a half an hour be­fore Ryan’s ex­pected ar­rival at 2 p.m. Chants by the pro­tes­tors in­cluded: “Health care for all, not just Paul.”

Though many were from In­di­vis­i­ble, a few in the crowd were com­mu­nity mem­bers who were not af­fil­i­ated with any group but wanted to show Ryan their dis­plea­sure with cur­rent pol­i­tics.

Jonathan Chace said he is not a mem­ber of In­di­vis­i­ble and came to air his griev­ances about Ryan.

“I want to reg­is­ter my con­cern about the di­rec­tion the coun­try is go­ing,” Chace said. “I have not seen Ryan con­demn Trump at all for his racism as he ex­presses it.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, some Wash­ing­ton Col­lege stu­dents joined the protest fol­low­ing Ryan’s ar­rival.

“Trump keeps mak­ing tax cuts for the rich and re­fus­ing to help the vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane (Maria),” said Gaviota Hernán­dez Owinones, a Wash­ing­ton Col­lege stu­dent from Puerto Rico. “He hu­mil­i­ated my peo­ple af­ter the hur­ri­cane.”

She, along with six other col­lege stu­dents, protested with chants and wore shirts that spelled out “traitor.” They were joined by two pro­fes­sors from the col­lege.

Three mem­bers of the WAC Col­lege Repub­li­cans Club also gath­ered out­side Dixon but in an ef­fort to get a pic­ture with Ryan.

“They can be­lieve what they want,” Wil­liam Le­so­rav­age, a sopho­more at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege, said of the pro­test­ers. “You can ex­er­cise the right to free speech, al­though some of their signs are funny.”

The protest was met mostly with thumbs-up and waves from driv­ers who passed by High Street. How­ever, one driver yelled “get a life you scum” out the win­dow as he passed and an­other called the pro­test­ers “fools.”

Many of the pro­test­ers made it clear their in­tent was to show dis­plea­sure at Ryan and not at Dixon.

Kitty May­nard, a mem­ber of In­di­vis­i­ble from Ch­ester­town, said she won­dered if the visit was sim­ply a photo op­por­tu­nity for Ryan and not a chance to talk to peo­ple.

“He gives tax breaks to peo­ple who have the trickle-down men­tal­ity we’ve had since Rea­gan,” May­nard said. “It work­ing is not the case. It cre­ates in­equity.”

Fol­low­ing his tour of the Dixon Valve plant, Ryan an­swered ques­tions from com­pany em­ploy­ees and held a brief news con­fer­ence for re­porters in­side.

The pro­test­ers lined High Street for about two hours. They were not per­mit­ted to get close to Dixon Vlave as Ch­ester­town po­lice of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing Chief Adrian Baker, had the front of the build­ing blocked off. Still, the pro­test­ers lined the side­walk in front of the build­ing on both sides of High Street.

Af­ter about an hour and a half, many of the pro­test­ers had to re­turn to their homes or jobs, while oth­ers con­tin­ued to hold up signs for driv­ers pass­ing by as they waited for Ryan to leave Dixon.

“Dis­sent is pa­tri­otic,” said Merry Guben, a Wor­ton res­i­dent and a mem­ber of In­di­vis­i­ble. “It is our obli­ga­tion to speak up as cit­i­zens. We need to stand up for our rights.”

PHOTOS BY LEANN SCHENKE

Gaviota Hernán­dez Owinones, a Wash­ing­ton Col­lege stu­dent form Puerto Rico, shouts protests about House Speaker Paul Ryan as he vis­its Dixon Valve & Cou­pling in Ch­ester­town Oct. 5.

Penny Block of Ch­ester­town holds up a sign meant for House Speaker Paul Ryan as he vis­ited Dixon Valve & Cou­pling in Ch­ester­town. Block is a mem­ber of In­di­vis­i­ble of Kent and Queen Anne’s Coun­ties.

Dawn Miller of Milling­ton holds a sign for driv­ers to see as they pass pro­tes­tor on High Street. Miller is a mem­ber of In­di­vis­i­ble of Kent and Queen Anne’s Coun­ties.

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