JANESVILLE, Wis. - A national women’s advocacy organization and other protesters made their voices heard outside Speaker Paul Ryan’s Janesville office Wednesday morning.
About 70 people chanted “This is what democracy looks like” and “Hey, hey; ho, ho; Speaker Ryan has got to go.” The protest, started by UltraViolet, was in response to many people not being able to get ahold of Ryan or the staff within his Constituent Services Center.
Jane Rowe, who is 85 years old, drove down from Madison to take part in the protest.
“I’ve been unable to reach him by phone,” she said. “At best, an answering machine and usually not that.”
The group delivered more than 80,000 postcards with personalized messages for Ryan. People from around the country wrote letters online, and UltraViolet printed them off to hand-deliver.
“The speaker won’t talk to us. He won’t return calls. He’s not holding public meetings, so we brought the public to him,” Melissa Byrne, protest organizer and UltraViolet consultant, said.
Some of the protesters were able to speak with Ryan’s office staff, but they were unsuccessful in talking to the speaker.
“We asked them to put Speaker Ryan on the phone to see if they could just get him on the phone. They said no,” Byrne said. “We asked to set up a time to have a real meeting with him. They said no.”
In a statement, Ryan press secretary Ian Martorana said, “Paul appreciates hearing the opinions and feedback of his constituents, he fully respects their right to voice their concerns, and he hopes any future demonstrations will continue to be conducted in a peaceful and civil manner.”
Martorana also said Ryan’s Janesville office receives a high volume of calls, but the staff there is available to answer phone calls.
The protesters said they would keep speaking out until Ryan listens.
“I think we need to do this in every opportunity that we can manage,” Rowe said.
Organizers said the turnout and postcard response shows how important this is to people.
“I think this shows him the anger and the sadness and the disappointment people have,” Byrne said. “I hope that Paul Ryan has the courage to sit down with his constituents, to sit down with people who are concerned about the future of our country.”
Martorana also noted the Janesville office serves constituents of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. He said anyone outside the district should visit Speaker.gov to send an email or call 202-225-0600.
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