Republican Senator Cory Gardner’s Constituents Demand His Party Do More to Combat Hate

“It’s not just in Charlottesville…and it’s not the first time.”

At a town hall meeting in Colorado Springs on Tuesday, Republican Senator Cory Gardner came face to face with a raucous crowd imploring him to do more to fight back against hateful rhetoric. The town hall came just three days after a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia left one woman dead and at least 34 injured.

At the Gardner town hall, a local rabbi told the story of her synagogue being desecrated just two weeks earlier. “It’s not just in Charlottesville…and it’s not the first time” she said (at 34:30 minutes of the video above). “Do you see the connection between what the Trump administration and your party do in the building of hate and division?”

Although Colorado as a whole voted for Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election, more than 60 percent of Colorado Springs’ county picked Donald Trump. The city has long been known as a conservative hub, home to the Christian organization Focus on the Family and the US Air Force Academy. Most of the town hall’s attendees, however, appeared to strongly oppose the president. Many applauded Gardner’s denunciation of Trump’s initial response to the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend.

Thirty-five minutes into the meeting, attendees became louder about their disapproval of Trump’s administration, and started shouting things like “Get Steve Bannon out!” and “Call out Trump!” One man who identified himself as Jewish asked: “Are you confident that Donald Trump is fit to lead the country?” and was met with positive applause. Gardner replied that Trump was elected by “the people of the country,” and that he does believe the current president is fit for the role.

Failing to quiet the rowdy crowd, the moderator started announcing the impending end of the town hall—more than thirty minutes ahead of time. A father who lost his son in the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado scolded Senator Gardner for never answering a single request for a meeting in the past five years. Now, he said, he had a new question (at 1:05:00): “Will you ask that the peddlers of the alt-right messaging who are employed in the White House…are taken off of the government payroll?” he said, mentioning Steve Bannon. “I don’t want to be paying their salaries.”