Trump demonstrators rally in McDonough for senator’s staff

By James Saxton
Times Correspondent

This time last year, three Henry County residents sought out the aid of staff members for U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., at a “mobile office” hosted by a private insurance company in McDonough.

At the same event Thursday, as many as 200 flooded the parking lot of Farm Bureau of Henry County on Racetrack Road.

Jimmy Hardy of Atlanta, center, gestures as he shouted his concerns for what he sees as a sharp increase in racial disharmony during and since the presidential election, while an appreciative crowd, partly composed of two groups protesting President Donald Trump’s policies, encourages him. Photo by James Saxton

Two groups were in attendance, Indivisible Atlanta and Resistance Recess. Both are Atlanta-based grassroots political organizations whose Facebook pages indicate that they resist the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The demonstrators, many of them carrying signs critical of a wide variety of issues concerning Trump and his Cabinet nominees and his initiatives, took turns speaking to the crowd. In the first two hours alone, more than two dozen issues of national concern had been raised.

“I’m so proud today to be an American,” said Terri Taylor of McDonough, who runs an online business from her home. “This is what makes our country great. We can get disgusted when we see our government do things that seem wrong to us, and we can raise our voices and not get arrested for doing so. If enough of us rise up, our government can’t afford to go on ignoring us.”

Another said she simply needed a direct answer from her senator.

“I want to talk with (the senator’s staff members) about my concerns,” said Carol Baird of Atlanta, “because I feel like if I can talk with a real person, I can ask them some questions on how to best engage the senator.”

Baird said she has been frustrated by past efforts at dialogue with her elected representative. “Whenever I’ve sent anything over the past two years to Sen. Perdue, an email with a concern, he just sends me back a canned talking point on an issue and doesn’t engage with my question or concern.

“I understand he’s busy and has many issues to deal with. But how do I, a 65-year-old native Georgian, whose family has been here for generations, get my senator to engage with me and respond to an issue?”

Later, Baird said she was able to meet with one of Perdue’s policy advisors. “She listened to me and asked me to write a letter to Senator Perdue and send it to her office, and she’d see to it that he sees the letter. So I’ve got to write that letter.” The demonstrators were at times loud, mostly with applause and cheers, yet remained peaceful throughout the four-hour event. Although the large numbers of those requesting time with staff workers appeared to be virtually overwhelming them and diluted efforts to hear requests specifically from Henry County residents, no attempts were made by the demonstrators to directly prevent them.

“From a Farm Bureau perspective,” said Jean Dykes, office manager of the hosting Henry County Farm Bureau, “we opened up our office to help Henry County people, those who have difficulty traveling to the senator’s regular Atlanta office. The demonstrators simply want to voice their opposition to the various initiatives of the Republican Party and President Trump. While that’s fine, our concerns are that those from Henry County with issues like missing VA benefits and other federal aid difficulties are heard, too.”

One McDonough woman, who asked that her name be withheld, said she almost turned away when she saw the crowd because “they’ll never have time for me with all these people here.” She said she’d seen a news brief on the front page of the Times last week advising of the event and needed help with two Social Security checks that never arrived in the past year.

“My grandson was going to drive me over but called and said he couldn’t,” she said. “I don’t live far from here, and it’s a pretty day, so I walked on over here. I think someone has been watching my mailbox. I try to listen for the mail lady and get to it right away but maybe these people can help me come up with some other way” to safely receive the benefit checks.

When asked if she’d approached the tables set up for making appointments with the senator’s staff members, she replied, “Well… no, not yet.” Then, “I may just go to the post office and see if they can help me.”