Posted by: ithacacatholicworker | February 18, 2017

Sit-In Continues at Rep. Tom Reed’s Ithaca Office

 

Constituents of New York’s 23rd Congressional District are on the second day of a sit-in at Congressman Tom Reed’s Ithaca office, having slept on the floor of the windowless, fourth floor, 100 square foot office. They had been told by the congressman’s staff that they could stay as long as they wanted. “We just want to talk to our representative in Congress at this troubled time for our country” said Todd Saddler, one of six who visited the office Tuesday morning, and have refused to leave until they are able to communicate directly with Reed.

The six, members of the Ithaca Catholic Worker, brought messages of love and a gift basket for the congressman and his staff, in honor of Valentine’s Day. The statement they presented to Rep. Reed’s staff read, in part, “…we love you. That love also requires us to tell you the truth. We ask that you support policies that embody faith and love of each human being, without exception…”

Their statement asked the following of the congressman:

1) speak out against the executive order banning people from seven Muslim majority countries and refugees and vote against any legislation that would support such a ban; 2) vote for the Protect American Families Act; 3) vote against any funding or authorization of a border wall; 4) vote against repealing the ACA; 5) speak out and vote against construction of the pipeline at Standing Rock.

The six who began the sit in are Tompkins County residents: Daniel Burns, Ellen Grady, Neil Golder, Todd Saddler, Leah Grady Sayvetz, and Dan Burgevin.

Since Tuesday morning, a steady stream of constituents have made their way to the downtown Ithaca office to express concerns to the congressman. Many local residents who visited were unaware that a sit in was in progress. As news spread, others crowded in to support the sit-in and voice many of the same concerns, and other issues and policies related to President Trump’s agenda.

Many constituents are demanding that Congressman Reed hold a town hall meeting in Ithaca so that they can express their interests directly, and have a dialog about the merits of different policy positions. Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick visited the sit-in Tuesday night, and expressed support of the demand for a town hall meeting in the area. The Mayor reported to the sit-in participants that he had sent an email to Reed’s office Tuesday morning requesting a town hall be held here next week. Myrick had been unaware that the sit-in was unfolding at the same time.

The office has now been decorated with valentines, and sports a sign which reads “The People’s Town Hall Meeting: Open Now!” Many visitors had their messages live streamed and posted on Facebook at the page of sit-in participant Daniel Joseph Burns. Most were critical of Reed’s support of the Trump agenda, with only one man voicing support for Trump.

Congressman Reed’s District Director Alison Hunt informed the group that Reed is busy in Washington, and his schedule would not allow him to talk with them. He did, however, find time to appear in an interview on “Fox and Friends” on Wednesday, in which the congressman called those sitting in “extremists”. He also said “I don’t know exactly what they’re protesting.”

The sit-in participants were mystified to hear their representative say he didn’t know what they are protesting, since they provided clearly written statements of the steps they are asking him to take. They are eager to decamp and return to their busy lives as soon as they can discuss their requests with Reed.

Their statement to the congressman included this summary: “While we appreciate that your rhetoric is not mean, rude and hateful like President Trump’s, you are nevertheless supporting his policies. These policies do not come from or reflect love, they do not represent us your constituents, and they are deeply hurting many people.”

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