Protesters held signs with their zip codes on them as they picketed outside Republican Rep. Scott Perry’s town hall in his Pennsylvania district Tuesday — proof, they said, that he unfairly barred his constituents from his first town hall in more than two years.
About sixty people sat in folding chairs in the 200-person capacity Hummelstown Fire Station after being granted access to the town hall through a two-step RSVP process. Others never made it off the waiting list, leading some to believe they were intentionally excluded.
Rows of empty folding chairs were stacked against the wall, a livestream of the town hall posted to Perry’s official Facebook page shows.
Perry’s office has not replied to a request for comment.
Four chapters of the progressive nonprofit Indivisible in the south-central Pennsylvania area — Capital Region Indivisible, Cumberland Valley Rising, Hershey Indivisible Team and Indivisible YORK — had raised concerns for days about the hurdles to register for the town hall, which “sold out” minutes after tickets became available.
“I’m a constituent of Scott Perry’s. I got an email alert mentioning the town hall and asking for an RSVP. I responded in less than five minutes but was put on a waiting list. I found it kind of funny that the town hall was already full,” said Tracy Brown, an activist with Hershey Indivisible Team told CQ Roll Call.
Others encountered glitches, or discovered when they arrived to the town hall they had never been added to the waiting list at all, according to Kathleen Keadan, an activist with Capital Region Indivisible. Staffers were adamant about shutting out non-ticketed constituents until about 15 minutes after the town hall began, at which point a handful of people were allowed in, according to Keadan’s account.
“Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District consists of 700,000 constituents and it is Rep. Scott Perry’s job to represent all of them and not just those constituents with whom he agrees,” Keadan said in a statement.
The groups had written Perry requesting a relocation of the town hall to a larger venue but were rebuffed. About 50 people protested outside the firehouse, PennLive reported.
“These were not paid protesters. They had serious personal questions regarding health care, job security … there were farmers concerned about tariffs,” Brown said. “It’s important he hears from diverse voices and not a preselected echo chamber.”
Attendees of the town hall peppered Perry with questions about the immigration, white supremacy and gun violence.
Perry faced a hostile crowd at his last town hall in 2017. The process for attending that town hall, which took place a middle school with a larger capacity, was more seamless, activists say.
Perry’s district became more Democratic under a new congressional map.
Perry faces two challengers from the Hummelstown area: Republican Bobby Jeffries and Democrat Tom Brier. Democrat Eugene DePasquale has also announced a bid for the 10th District.