Local protesters tell president, Congress to 'step up'

Local protesters tell president, Congress to 'step up'

January 27th, 2010 by Matt Wilson in News

Despite chilly weather and the loud sounds of construction at the Walnut Street bridge Tuesday afternoon, a group of protesters stood by Frazier Avenue traffic to send President Barack Obama and Congress a message.

"We're pressing Washington to fight," said Gary Holland, 65.

Mr. Holland was one of about 18 people who attended a North Chattanooga rally organized by the self-described progressive organization MoveOn.org.

Antoinette Pereira, 59, an event organizer, said the rally was meant as a counterpoint to those who say the election of U.S. Sen.-elect Scott Brown, R-Mass., was a rejection of health care reform.

"People in Chattanooga should know, and in the nation should know, that a lot of people still, despite that election, want health care reform," she said.

Local Republicans have hailed the Massachusetts election as signifying a national turn away from Democrats.

Matthew Bryant, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, said he sees the election in Massachusetts, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1, as more than just pushing back against the health care bill.

"It's a rejection of an entire agenda," he said.


Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley 52 percent to 47 percent in the Jan. 19 special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat long held by the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

But Ms. Pereira cited a Jan. 19 poll of Massachusetts residents that showed three-fifths of them who supported President Obama in 2008 but voted for Sen.-elect Brown thought the current health care bill "doesn't go far enough."

Patrick Moore, 20, a local coordinator for MoveOn, said he wants a bill with a public option and for President Obama to "step up."

"I'm sick of seeing the majority not be the majority," he said.

The Chattanooga rally was among a number of MoveOn rallies held nationwide.