Anti-Trump protestors demand action from Sen. Reed, other leaders

Days after the 2016 presidential election, Steven Belaus said he couldn't get up from the couch. He was in shock over who would become his next president. Belaus wanted to be proactive so he teamed up with others by joining a movement - Indivisible Rhode Island - a movement to resist President Donald Trump's agenda.

Belaus, Indivisible Rhode Island volunteers and other Rhode Island residents crowded the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Rhode Island courthouse to meet with Sen. Jack Reed to share their disgust with Trump’s recent actions, many calling for Reed and other congressional leaders to take action on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, transgender bathroom issues and the investigation into Trump aides alleged involvement with Russia prior to the election. There was a larger than normal police presence in the area to address an disruptive protesting inside the courthouse, but other than boos and loud applause, there was no disruption.

“We demanded a joint committee to study Russian involvement in the election and Russian involvement going forward,” Reed told the group of 100 plus attendees. “We are keeping pressure on this investigation and what happened.”

Denise Crooks of Providence expressed her concern over Title IX guidelines around transgender students in school and the LGBTQ community telling Reed she’s disappointed that he’d trust Ben Carson, who has been outspoken about not providing the LGBTQ community with extra rights.

“I spoke with someone in your Washington office and I asked if you were planning to issue a statement about the Title IX guidelines around transgender students in school – the rollback and they said no,” Crooks said. “Also you said you were open to Ben Carson and now Judge Gorsuch, I’m very concerned.”

Title IX prohibits against sex-based discrimination in education.

“I’d like reassurance that when you are looking at nominees and laws that you are thinking about in the LGBTQ ... I’d like you, as Sen. Warren and Sen. Schumer and Congressman David Cicilline have done, I’d like you to issue a statement condemning that rollback of guidance," Crooks said.

Reed said his office is very concerned about the issue and has taken the position of supporting former President Obama administration’s policy.

“We have been very active with proposed legislation,” Reed said. “We took the position in supporting the Obama administration’s policy, which I think makes sense, that the policy effectively that is in place here in RI and that’s the policy where we’ll go out and I’ll talk to my press folks.”

Cat Laine said she is concerned about private citizens’ data and their privacy being protected with all of the surveillance under the administration’s control.

“Some of those capabilities are being handed down to law enforcement in the form of stingrays and other simulators that can just suck up all of our data,” Laine said. “What are you and other members of Congress going to do to protect private citizens, activists (especially since so many of us are quite riled up) and also members in marginalized communities from being caught up in drag nets and having our rights violated.”

Reed said the administration has to look at the whole range of authorities, some of which were improvised and extended after 9/11.

“We have to look back and see if those things have gone much too far for the American people,” Reed responded. “Rather than spending money on expensive, sophisticated equipment, can you invest it in community policing.”

Many in the room booed and became angry over the mention of Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch, some going as far as asking Reed if the nomination could be blocked.

“My marriage is federally recognized because of marriage going through the courts,” Crooks said.” People are going to need to turn to the courts. I hope you’ll press him on that issue.”

Reed said he intends to bring that and a few more questions to Gorsuch.

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