Over 200 people arrived at Congressman Steve Pearce’s Las Cruces office on Friday to find that, once again, they were locked out of meeting with his staff.
Local activists associated with the Indivisible movements in Truth or Consequences, Las Cruces, Otero County, Lincoln County, Sierra County, Grant County, and Luna County planned what they called a Mock Town Hall event Friday afternoon.
ProgressNow New Mexico staffer Lucas Herndon was on site to bring the event live via Facebook. You can check out footage of the whole event here:
Constituents who arrived to schedule appointments with the Congressman found the door blocked by private security officers. In response, the group chose to organize a protest, eventually lining up again to knock on the door to request meetings.
Then, at 1:00 pm local time, Pearce tweeted that his office was open and invited people to “come on by.”
— Steve Pearce (@RepStevePearce) February 24, 2017
So, at 1:00, constituents assembled on the sidewalk went back to the door, lined up to make their appointments – only to be prevented from entering or even knocking on the door by a private security officer who blocked the door.
Among the constituents prevented from accessing their Congressman’s office was a senior who identified himself as Mr. Richard de Maria, a Korean War Veteran (about 35:30 in the Facebook video).
A staffer briefly appeared to telling the assembled constituents that they couldn’t enter and would have to come back later.
Mr. de Maria introduced himself to Pearce’s staff, who was flanked by private security guards, asking for a meeting. Pearce’s staff refused. “I don’t think the Congressman has the courage to face his constituents”
Private Security Now Block Access to Congressman’s Office
After a constituents tried to make appointments at the office earlier in the week, only to be turned away and launch a protest, the property owner hired private security and installed signs to limit access to the strip mall where Pearce’s office is located.
The guard blocked constituents from entering the location, acting at the direction of Pearce’s staff when she retreated inside leaving the guard to deny entry to visitors lined up in the parking lot.
Generally, the crowd adhered to the posted signs and remained on the public sidewalk for most of the demonstration, that was until Pearce’s tweet came through about the open door. The property manager had at one point thanked the crowd for adhering to the posted rules and for being respectful but was obviously agitated when questioned about the Congressman’s tweet.
The veteran who spoke with the staffer in the video DID eventually get in, but not when he arrived, nor when Pearce sent the tweet saying his doors were open. Others were still turned away after Pearce’s staff said everyone needed to make an appointment and could only come in one at a time.
Pearce has not scheduled any in-person events in his district since the inauguration of President Trump. Some in the crowd said they had supported Pearce in the past but were appalled at the current administration’s actions toward working on repealing the Affordable Care Act and ongoing ICE raids that have affected many in Pearce’s district.