Monday, January 30, 2017
Very pleased to share this story from San Francisco magazine with everyone. Big thanks to all who participated yesterday, Sunday, January 29, in the action, especially to Michael J. Kirschner for snapping his great fotos and putting the writer in touch with Ben Becker and I.
200 Demonstrators Descended On Dianne Feinstein’s House to Protest Her Support for Trump’s Nominees
By: Lamar Anderson | Photo: Aris Polyzos
January 30, 2017
They want DiFi to fall in line with Californians’ overwhelming rejection of Trump. And answer her phone.
On Sunday afternoon, as about 2,000 protesters were picketing at SFO against President Trump’s sudden ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, about 200 demonstrators headed in the opposite direction, to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s mansion in Pacific Heights. They were there to express their displeasure at the senator’s unexpectedly pro-Trump voting record.
So far, she has voted in support of four of the president’s cabinent nominees: James Mattis for Secretary of Defense, Mike Pompeo for CIA director, John Kelly for Secretary of Homeland Security, and Nikki Haley for U.N. ambassador.
By FiveThirtyEight's calculation, Feinstein has fallen in line with the president's positions and cabinet nominees 100 percent of the time, earning DiFi a pro-Trump score higher than some Republicans, including Texas senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.
“It’s disgusting,” says organizer Ben Becker, who is a Democratic Party assembly delegate for District 17. “It’s completely inexcusable.” The protest began at 3 p.m., as marchers filed into the public park abutting Feinstein’s property, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Jeff Sessions—just say no!” The proceedings were structured as an impromptu citizens’ town hall, with demonstrators taking turns speaking to the crowd for about two minutes each.
Addressing Senator Feinstein—who did not appear to be home—a protester named Julie took the floor. “If you keep following this agenda, I will register as an Independent,” she vowed, holding a sign reading “Stop collaborating with fascists.” She added: “If you don’t know what people want, you haven’t been watching the news; you haven’t been to the airport; you haven’t been to the women’s march. You are ingoring everyone that is trying to talk to you.”
Becker and fellow organizer Michael Petrelis decided to rally in response to what they see as Feinstein's unresponsiveness to voters. “We attempted to get through to her through her office lines in California and D.C.,” says Becker. “I tried to call about 50 times over this past week, and I wasn’t able to get through. I wasn’t able to leave a message because her machine was full and wasn’t being emptied. We got the impression that the opinions of her constituency were not important to Senator Feinstein.”
Feinstein’s office hasn’t yet responded to emailed questions about the protesters’ concerns.
San Francisco recently included Feinstein in a photo feature on the local resistance to Trump, though she rejected the term "resistance" with interviewer Randy Shandobil, host of the podcast This Golden State. “My view is you work with him where you can and you oppose where you can’t,” Feinstein told Shandobil in December.
Petrelis, who emceed yesterday’s unofficial town hall, wants to see regular forums with Feinstein—or at least her staffers—and her constituents. “It was great that we practiced town hall methods,” says Petrelis. "It was wonderful—about 200 people showed up on a Sunday at her home."
The organizers have set up a Facebook page, People's Town Hall, to promote more unsanctioned town halls in the future.