METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - There was plenty of raw emotion Wednesday in front of and inside the East Bank Jefferson Parish Regional Library from hundreds of protesters who couldn't get into a town hall meeting and hundreds more who were inside the meeting with Sen. Bill Cassidy
People were lined up all afternoon, carrying signs and chanting their concerns about what they believe is the direction of the American government and the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Many protesters appeared to be local.
Most of the signs were in opposition to the repeal of Obamacare, which Cassidy supports. Others expressed support for gay and lesbian rights.
Inside the library was packed to capacity with a raucous crowd.
Cassidy was expected to take questions about his political policies at around 3:30 p.m. but took to the podium at about 4 p.m.
"We can either have a conversation or we can shout. I'm not patronizing, I'm just pointing out," Cassidy told the crowd as they hurled questions and anger toward him.
During the meeting, Cassidy tried to explain his plan to replace the ACA but was met with anger from constituents, who only wanted to hear answers to their questions.
Eventually, Senator Cassidy relented and began to answer written questions and even some shouted at him from the crowd.
Outside, hundreds of others who could not fit into the room waited. Some said they waited weeks to get through to Cassidy.
"I'm a lifelong resident. I spilled blood for the state and the senator doesn't want to answer my questions," said Jeremy Hammett, a veteran and former Republican. "I'm agitated, but I wasn't the first day I called him. I just want to know what the senator thought about Vladimir Putin's hands in our democracy, and he refused to answer the phone. So I wasn't agitated four weeks ago, I wasn't agitated two weeks ago, I got agitated last week when the person who answered his phone said he had no public comment about Russian involvement in our election."
Cassidy said the overwhelming turnout was unexpected when the meeting was initially planned.
"I'm so sorry we didn't have a bigger venue," Cassidy said. "We have never had more than 100 people at a town hall meeting, so when we reserved this room several months ago, we thought there was going to be a lot of empty chairs. Little did we know."
Cassidy said after the meeting he was pleased to speak with constituents, even though many did not leave happy.
"What can you say? I'm gonna listen to you, I'm going to respect your opinion, I hope you'll allow me to speak to you, but as a fellow American to another American, I think we have a common goal to make our country better. It doesn't help when someone's over here yelling and no one can hear what you said. It doesn't really help if you don't allow me to explain myself, but if that's how you want to express yourself it is your First Amendment right, and I will work as your senator to protect your First Amendment right," Cassidy said.
Senator Cassidy will host three more town hall meetings:
Town Hall Meeting in Assumption Parish
Thursday, February 23, 2017
9:00 AM (CT)
Assumption Parish Community Center
4910 Highway 308
Napoleonville, LA 70390
Town Hall Meeting in Lafourche Parish
Thursday, February 23, 2017
11:00 AM (CT)
Madewood Room, Warren J. Harang, Jr. Municipal Auditorium
310 North Canal Boulevard
Thibodaux, LA 70301
Town Hall Meeting in St. Martin Parish
Friday, February 24, 2017
9:30 AM (CT)
Breaux Bridge City Hall
120 Berard St.
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517