A group of about 20 protesters showed up at U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis' (R) house in Woodbury on Wednesday. They coursed up his driveway bearing signs, crowded around his front step, and chanted about healthcare loudly enough for his neighbors to hear. Lewis had supported the Republican health care bill, which included deep cuts to Medicaid.
Lewis wasn't at home, but when he heard about the "invasion" later, he was incensed, calling the protest a "wanton disregard of civility," and a "dangerous ramping up of rhetoric that already has one of my House colleagues in rehab from a vicious attack."
Lewis' office didn't respond to our calls, but the congressman appears to be refering to U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is in rehabilitation after a Bernie Sanders supporter shot him during practice for the Congressional Baseball Game in June.
A video of the protest accompanied Lewis' post as evidence, though instead of threatening mobsters, protesters are elderly ladies, a senior gentleman in a wheelchair, homecare workers, and a handful of young activists with TakeAction Minnesota. The group led a set of chants for a few minutes, before reading aloud from a letter, which was then propped against Lewis' door.
Their "dangerous" rhetoric included a short speech by senior citizen Debra Francis: “My PCA would have to juggle even more work to keep up with the cost of living. Medicaid only provides the baseline of what thousands of families need. Caregivers, like my PCA, and seniors, like myself, are hardly getting by as it is."
Demonstraters appeared to avoid stepping on Lewis' prim green lawn as they left.
We are the #CaringMajorityPosted by TakeAction Minnesota on Wednesday, August 9, 2017
The protest was condemned by DFL Party chairman Ken Martin, who said these protesters "crossed the line" when they appeared at Lewis' private home.
“While we do not condone their behavior," Martin said, "we understand the frustrations of Minnesotans who have been continually denied an outlet to express their concerns directly to Congressman Lewis. Despite repeated calls from the Minnesotans he represents, he has refused to hold in-person public town halls. Congressman Lewis’ votes in Washington have threatened the lives of many of his constituents. They are concerned and they deserve answers.”
Police were called to the neighborhood, confirmed Woodbury Police spokeswoman Michelle Okaba, on a somewhat unrelated matter. A neighbor's children had been home alone when their alarm started going off, and the neighbor mentioned that it might have had something to do with the protesters at Lewis' house.
Targeted picketing in residential neighborhoods is illegal in Woodbury, Okaba said, but because the protesters were long gone before officers arrived, the department won't be tracking them down for prosecution.
Police would work with Lewis if it happens again, she offered, as well as with protesters if they wanted to find someplace else in town to legally protest.
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