Constituents of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Wisconsinites found a creative way to join some 200 progressive activists who were protesting the House speaker during his visit to Providence, Rhode Island, on Wednesday.
The Wisconsin residents claim they didn’t get an opportunity to meet with Ryan in person during the congressional recess last week because he didn’t hold town hall meetings. So they used FaceTime calls to voice concerns such as college affordability, the forthcoming repeal of the Affordable Care Act and potential cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
Several of the demonstrators in Providence, who are affiliated with the progressive groups Rhode Island Working Families Party and Resist Hate RI, held up the phones they were using to FaceTime with the Wisconsinites. The Wisconsin residents conveyed their messages, and the activists in Providence repeated them into a megaphone.
Maxwell Love, an organizer with Our Wisconsin Revolution, said he and other activists tried to meet with Ryan last week and were not allowed into the office.
“I grew up in rural Wisconsin, and a lot of my friends couldn’t go to college. We need action on student debt,” Love said by phone. An activist repeated his words into the megaphone.
Other FaceTime callers not featured in the video above included constituents of Ryan’s like ironworker Randy Bryce and school board member Mark Frontier.
The House speaker was in Providence to visit Year Up, a job training program run by a megadonor. The rally attendees did not actually see him over the course of their protest.
Ryan’s office did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request to clarify whether he held any town hall events for his constituents during the recent recess period.
Only 19 congressional Republicans scheduled in-person town halls last week to avoid being inundated by protesters, according to The Washington Post. Beginning in January, constituents began appearing at the forums en masse to grill members of Congress about their plans to replace the Affordable Care Act and to investigate President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
The sight of numerous residents telling their personal stories or expressing their anger has generated national media attention and embarrassed Republicans. Some GOP lawmakers have accused the town hall attendees of being paid activists, without citing any evidence to support this claim.