About 30 demonstrators, some holding signs that read “Putin’s favorite congressman,” “Dump Dana 2018” and “Just say no to Trumpcare,” gathered outside Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s office in downtown Huntington Beach on Tuesday afternoon to protest the Republican congressman’s support for President Trump’s policies.
The gathering was organized by Indivisible OC 48, a left-leaning group of constituents in Rohrabacher’s 48th Congressional District who have planned protests outside his office at 101 Main St. since Trump’s inauguration. They started at the office and marched down the street to the pier.
Indivisible OC’s aim has been to coax the congressman into holding a town hall meeting to discuss what Indivisible members say are troubling issues stemming from the White House: the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Trump’s attitude toward Russia, and a perceived general “nastiness” toward minorities and the working class.
“It’s appalling,” said Newport Beach resident Jim Percival. “If you’re representing the people you should make yourself available instead of hiding. People like Rohrabacher don’t give a hoot about the little people.”
In February, a scuffle at Rohrabacher’s office resulted in injury to a staff member and a 2-year-old girl, who was knocked in the head by a door. Rohrabacher responded to the incident by saying the activists were involved in “political thuggery.”
Since then, activists said they have remained outside of his office during their demonstrations.
A few people Tuesday held milk cartons bearing a picture of Rohrabacher and reading “Have you seen Dana?”
While activists expressed disdain over the current administration, the House of Representatives’ recent passage of the American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, drew fresh ire from the group.
People chanted “Shame on you” and “When healthcare is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”
If the American Health Care Act is approved by the Senate and signed into law, it could lead to an estimated 24 million fewer Americans with health insurance and could affect those on Medicaid and with employer-provided health insurance, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Rohrabacher, who supported the act, wrote in a press release following his vote that the Affordable Care Act made healthcare too expensive for many Americans and officials needed to address a “looming crisis.”
“The Republican healthcare proposal takes us in the right direction,” he wrote. “What we sent to the Senate may not satisfy everyone, but it’s vastly superior to the failing Obamacare monstrosity.”
On Tuesday, Rohrabacher said he's hesitant to host an in-person town hall meeting. Instead, he plans to continue to host individual meetings with constituents and conduct town hall meetings by telephone, which he said allows more people to participate.
He said the activists' aim is to "create their own political reality."
"These are the types of people who make town hall meetings impossible," Rohrabacher said.
Aaron McCall, an organizer with Indivisible OC 48, said he’s primarily concerned about the bill’s effect on individuals with preexisting conditions and the increasing cost of health insurance premiums.
“My entire family has preexisting conditions,” he said. “This is going to affect the people in this district immensely.”
Demonstrators were expected to gather again at the pier Tuesday evening to host a “die-in,” in which individuals would lie on yoga mats with tombstones noting their preexisting conditions and eventual causes of death.
Linda Clough of Costa Mesa said Trump and Rohrabacher’s views on climate change concern her the most.
Rohrabacher has been openly skeptical of global warming, disputing scientists’ theory that man-made carbon emissions are primarily to blame.
Clough, who was an activist during the Vietnam War era, said she was motivated by Trump’s election to get involved with her local Indivisible OC chapter.
“I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime,” she said, “but I’ve never been as terrified as I am now with this administration.”
7:50 p.m.: This article was updated with comment from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
This article was originally published at 5:50 p.m.