Boehner Roused by D.C. Voting Rights Advocates
||Thursday, February 17, 2011
About 25 D.C. voting rights advocates protested outside House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) Capitol Hill basement apartment early this morning, angrily decrying his "hypocrisy" for siding with the Tea Party while introducing measures that would prohibit the District from using local funds for abortion and needle-exchange programs.
During the protest, the demonstrators read a letter co-signed by 62 organizations calling on Republicans to stay faithful to the Tea Party's foundations and allow local matters to be decided by local officials. "We expect conservatives to be consistent in their application of 'local-rights' by letting Washingtonians manage their own affairs without interference or meddling by Congress," reads the letter.
When DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka tried to deliver it to Boehner's doorstep, the speaker's protective detail rushed into to stop him; the protesters were forced to leave the letter on his front gate with a teabag attached to it.
Today, the House is set to vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government through September. The resolution contains two social riders targeting the District -- one prohibiting the city from using its funds for abortions, the other cutting needle-exchange programs. Both riders have been promoted by Republicans before, and it was only in late 2009 that Democrats were able to lift them.
The protest lasted close to an hour, and was conducted under the watchful eye of the U.S. Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Secret Service. Protesters marched, chanted and joked that Boehner was calling into his first meetings on the Hill. At one point, a city employee picked up garbage outside of Boehner's apartment; the protesters dryly noted that Boehner was benefiting from city-funded services even as he tried to undercut local decision-making.
Zherka strongly defended the group's decision to target Boehner's apartment, which one neighbor complained about. "He's coming into people's homes here in Washington, D.C.," said Zherka. "This is our home, he comes here and tells people what to do here -- they should come to his house."
"The idea that this isn't personal is ludicrous," Zherka added. "This is personal. He's coming into peoples' private lives when it comes to reproductive health, when it comes to AIDS prevention, when it comes to a whole host of things. He is an inaccessible person, except that he lives in our midst. If we don't have opportunities to meet with him, then we have to go where he is."
e to nine o'clock, Boehner emerged from the apartment, but was swiftly escorted to his SUV and driven away.