Protesters picketed at Speaker John Boehner’s Capitol Hill residence Thursday morning, objecting to what they view as Congressional intrusion into Washington, D.C.’s local government affairs.
Wearing tri-corner Colonial hats and waving flags reading “No Taxation Without Representation,” about 20 activists from DC Vote demonstrated on the sidewalk in front of the G Street Southeast row house complex that includes the Ohio Republican’s basement apartment.
They stayed for about an hour, until Boehner emerged from the house around 8:40 a.m. Boehner politely smiled and told the crowd, “Good morning,” as he climbed into a black SUV and drove off, escorted by his security detail.
The group marched in a circle yelling that they want democracy not hypocrisy. They held signs resembling President Barack Obama’s iconic Shepard Fairey campaign poster, but with Obama’s likeness replaced by Boehner’s and the word “Hope” replaced by “Hypocrisy.”
DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka told the group through a portable microphone that Boehner is Speaker because of the tea party.
They believe “that the central federal government should ... not intrude on the rights of local governments,” he said. “But within the first month ... what he has done is to try to extend the role of the federal government and try to federalize policy.”
The protest attracted a handful of Capitol Police officers, and the Speaker’s personal protective detail was on hand. Things got tense when Zherka attempted to walk to the Speaker’s door to deliver a letter.
Agents jumped from the SUV to tell Zherka not to tread on private property. From then on, officers guarded the door from the front lawn until Boehner left the residence. Zherka left the letter on Boehner’s picket fence instead.
“He’s coming to our home and telling D.C. residents what to do,” Zherka said later. “We wanted to come to his house.”
At least one neighbor was peeved at the noisy chanting. He came out to complain to police and ask them to shut down the protest, but police said D.C. law allows for such demonstrations.
Another neighbor, however, applauded the protesters and told them about his own experience with the Speaker.
“We had a block party and he didn’t come,” the man said. “In fact, his car was the only car still parked in the street.”
The modest protest was a far cry from the days surrounding the debate about health care reform legislation last year, when throngs of tea party activists besieged the Capitol taunting then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi with drawn-out chants of the California Democrat’s first name.
D.C. shadow Sen. Michael Brown lamented the fact that more city residents don’t participate in these protests, but he said the civil disobedience nonetheless sends a message to the GOP.
“It send a notice to these guys that we’re not just going to lay down anymore and take this,” the Democrat said. “These guys are on the attack. This puts them on notice.”
Zherka said the group also wanted to draw the attention of Boehner’s neighbors, possibly spurring them to take up the issue with the Speaker themselves.