“Peace not Pence,” was chanted by protesters across the street from Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday. NextGen Iowa and Indivisible Iowa organized a rally to protest Vice President Mike Pence, Congressman Rod Blum and Gov. Kim Reynolds, who were at the company to speak about tax reform, among other issues.
“Rod Blum is notorious for not meeting with the public so this is our next best option,” Cindy Garlock, a volunteer with Indivisible Iowa, said.
Indivisible Iowa encourages citizens to engage with representatives through rallies and events. About 75 protesters lined the street in a single file as Pence’s car drove by, holding signs that addressed everything from LGBT rights to immigration policies. Some Rockwell employees could be seen watching the protest from large glass windows.
“Mike Pence does not represent our values. We need to take action. We can’t wait until the next election.” Garlock used the megaphone to address Blum, “It’s been 400 days since your last town hall, so why do you want this job again?”
NextGen Iowa is working to get young people out to vote this November when both Blum and Reynolds will be up for re-election. A subset of NextGen America, the organization is running the largest youth vote program in the country.
“One of our goals is to get people to act on the beliefs they have about the political system,” Lexa Krug, a fellow with NextGen Iowa, said. With only about two days to mobilize the protest, Krug was impressed by the turnout and the response from the community. “It’s amazing what we can do when we go out in the community and talk to people.”
Krug hopes that the energy will stay up all the way through the November midterms. “We’re getting people fired up about political issues and registered to vote.”
Many different issues were brought up by the attendees of the rally, specifically Pence and Blum’s history of anti-LGBT policies. Signs read, “Return the children now,” “Christians against Trump & Blum” and “Being gay is not a sickness, but your homophobia is a plague.” One said simply, “I really dislike Mike Pence and Rod Blum sucks, too.”
Katie Brennan, regional organizing director with NextGen, said she was happy with the diversity of concerns.
“We know young people care about all these issues,” she said. “We can care about a lot of different things at the same time.”
When asked about the impact the protest might have had on the politicians, Brennan said, “I hope they saw a lot of young people that are really fired up to vote them out.”