HOST INTRO: It’s been 5 weeks since Trump took office and Democratic leaders are trying to learn how to lead the opposition party. For many that is connecting with their outraged constituents through town hall meetings during winter recess. One of them was Yvette Clarke. A democrat from Brooklyn. Kamila Kudelska was there.
Kudelska 1: At six, a whole hour before Congresswoman Clarke takes the stage, the auditorium is filling up. For some Brooklyn residents it’s the first opportunity to take the action on the streets to a face to face conversation with their legislators. Angela Welsh says it’s exciting.
WELSH: I think we we’ve been living under the illusion that in a democracy we don’t have to get involved so that is kind of exciting to get people waken up to the fact that we do.
Kudelska 2: By 6:30, the room is full. There’s even an overflow room and a line snakes around the block outside. Finally, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke enters the room.
Kudelska 3: It almost feels like she’s a rockstar. And the congresswoman really plays to the crowd as she mentions the people behind Trump’s recent travel ban.
CLARKE 1: The architects of the executive order Steve Bannon (BOOS) , Stephen Miller (BOOS) and Rudy Giuliani (BOOS)….I know (LAUGHTER).
Kudelska 4: She continues to throw in the punches.
CLARKE 2: Then Kellyanne Con-artist, I mean Conway (LAUGHTER)
Kudelska 5: But for so many people that were calling representatives and trying to take action in the past couple of months, this is a chance to feel closer to the action in D.C. And for Clarke it’s heartening. So when it comes time for the Q&A, they get down to business on ethics, immigration and healthcare. Even when one person confronts Clarke about not signing on to a bill, Clarke takes it with stride.
CLARKE 3: That’s a good question. My staff from DC is here they will make sure that happens immediately. (CHEERING) That’s what town halls are all about.
Kudelska 6: A little later it turns out, Clarke says she is signed on to the bill. She really pushes the crowd to get the word out to people in more conservative areas.
CLARKE 4: We need to build common cause with others of like mind in their districts. And Brooklynites have a way of charging people up. And i think we need to help bolster and support them to really push their representatives to do right by them.
Kudelska 7: By the end of the night, three ladies – Leigh Margallis, Julie Verans and Amy Shire – wearing their pink hats munch on donuts.
MARGALLIS: Well This is more of a love fest cause we all agree. It was fun.
VERANS: For me it was great to hear from her about strategies we can think about to support the democratic party in Washington and then the democratic party across the country.
SHIRE: And I was very, very encouraged and more even inspired by her. So I think these town halls are wonderful.
Kudelska 9: Lucky for Shire, Clarke says she will hold many more town halls in the future. Meanwhile, she’s created a hashtag #Brooklynresists. Kamila Kudelska, Columbia Radio News.