A Forsyth County resident who ran for a Board of Education seat last year has been organizing protests in Atlanta against various decisions recently made by President Donald Trump, namely his cabinet nominations and the ban he placed on Muslim refugees.
Anita Tucker said the goal of the demonstrations, which have been on Cumberland Boulevard in Vinings the past two Tuesdays in front of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson’s office, is to keep up a voice of resistance to Trump’s moves by airing concerns to local elected officials.
About 50 people showed up the first week. On Tuesday, 88 came out to the demonstration organized through MoveOn.org’s Stop Trump’s #SwampCabinet campaign.
“I’m energized by all of these people. I encourage more people to do this. This is the only way to get things back to normal. What’s going on now is not normal,” Tucker said. “Let’s not normalize the behavior going on in D.C.”
She tried to make an appointment to meet Isakson or one of his staff members but could not reach a human voice and was not let allowed past the front entrance of the building.
The first week they tried, four people were allowed to sit with Edward Tate, Isakson’s deputy chief of staff.
Rev. Jeremiah Gold-Hopto, who was with Tucker and the Forsyth County News as they tried to have their appointment honored, said he is most passionate about two issues – one is biblical and one is a matter of life and death.
“I have a chronic medical condition, which is currently under control but only because I take a lot of expensive medicine,” he said. “If I have to pay out of pocket, the market cost without insurance would for my medicine each year be more than my total family’s household income.”
Before the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, there was a lifetime cap on claims, he said, and he was getting close to that limit.
“Despite having paid premiums all these years and being part of those employer group plans, health insurance would have stopped paying,” he said. “And probably by now I would have reached the lifetime camp and wondering how much longer I’ll get to live.
“Because without these medicines and expensive medical care, I would have died years ago, I’ve been told numerous times by my doctors.”
Gold-Hopton, an ordained Christian minister who no longer maintain his ministry full-time due to his medical condition, said he also takes issue with the ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days and suspends the country’s refugee system for 120 days.
A judge in Seattle granted a temporary restraining order Friday blocking the ban until more hearings can be held.
“Jesus was a refugee. Matthew, too,” he said.
His wife’s grandparents moved to the United States as refugees from a town near Kiev.
“Most of their family members and neighbors in their Jewish village were killed … in a pogrom,” he said. “Their son, my father-in-law, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was awarded a bronze medal star for his service.”
He said elected officials are supposed to be accountable to their constituents. While they got an appointment last week, on Tuesday Tucker and Gold-Hopton were told not a single one of Isakson’s aides was in the office that day.
“They’re supposed to uphold the constitution, and that doesn’t seem to be happening,” he said. “This executive order does not seem to be constitutional, and firing the attorney general [Sally Yates] for trying to uphold the constitution reminds me of Nixon’s Saturday night massacre.”
He said he does not trust newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, to “put the constitution before Trump.”
Gainesville residents Roger and Mollie Drake stood with the group Tuesday holding signs and chanting, “Love not hate makes American great.”
“[Our reason for protesting] started with the opposition to most of the cabinet nominees, but mostly [Secretary of Education pick] Betsy DeVos, who has no public school background and is really fond of vouchers so everybody can go to religious schools, and I was a public school teacher … If no one says anything, everybody think it’s fine. It’s that, ‘I can’t keep quiet anymore,’” said Mollie Drake as she pointed to her handmade sign of a grandma speaking those words.
“Trump has been so autocratic issuing this ban on Muslims without any coordination with any of the other agencies and so forth, it’s just like he’s a dictator,” Roger Drake said. “He is a dictator.”
The couple said they have never protested before but felt compelled to now.
“I’m 75 years old,” Mollie Drake said.
Tucker, Gold-Hopton and the Drakes, as well as the rest of the group, said they will continue speaking out and showing up until their voices are heard.
Gold-Hopton said he hopes his elected officials listen and take a stand soon.
“But if not, and they wait until the next election cycle,” he said, “we’ll remember.”