Dozens of demonstrators swarmed Representative Tom Reed’s (R-N.Y.) Ithaca office to protest his support for the recent executive order on immigration and demand greater support for his Southern Tier constituents Tuesday.
The Ithaca protest — originally organized as a sister event — is in coordination with the ongoing weekly rallies against Reed in his Geneva and Corning office locations, according to organizer Sarah Markowitz.
“The current political climate has encouraged me and many other progressives to become more involved in politics,” Markowitz said. “Reed is currently not representing the interests of the 23rd district.”
Markowitz organized the rally with Rise Up Ithaca, a group that originally coordinated bus tickets to the Women’s March on Washington and now provides consistent information on social justice action in Ithaca and the Southern Tier.
Many protesters voiced their concerns over Reed’s support for repealing the Affordable Care Act because many Tompkins County residents rely on the ACA, according to former Prof. Charles Geisler, developmental sociology.
“Repealing the ACA will put many people’s lives in danger,” Geisler said. “It may have its flaws, but instead of trashing it, we need to improve it.”
Demonstrators were also angry over Reed’s support of the recent executive order on immigration — an order many of them labeled as discriminatory and xenophobic.
In response to a letter from protesters at a rally in Geneva on Tuesday, Reed stated in an email that the executive order would “ensure the protection of the American people,” and that “any claim about discriminatory intent is false,” according to the Daily Messenger.
Aside from these specific issues, Ithaca resident Amy Schram added that the Congressman has generally failed to represent the interests of citizens in the 23rd Congressional District.
“I’ve lived here for a year now and I have never seen or heard from him,” she said. “He doesn’t seem to respond to this town very well. I hope our protests are putting pressure on him to respond to our concerns about our community and our country.”
In the long term, the participants hope that these weekly protests will make a difference in Congress across upstate New York in the future, according to Markowitz.
“We will let it be known that the 23rd seat is not safe for Republicans,” she said. “There is a lot of momentum right now to make a change, and we need to organize and channel that momentum.”