By Molly Igoe
Chants of “You don’t care if people die” echoed outside of Dixon Valve & Coupling, one of Kent County’s top employers, on Oct. 5.
Washington College students and faculty, along with town members, were there to protest Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s visit to tour the plant and speak to workers.
He discussed decreasing taxes for manufacturers and other businesses to promote the Republican Party’s tax reform plan, according to a Washington Post article titled “Ryan touts GOP tax plan during visit to Maryland factory.”
“Small businesses like Dixon Valve & Coupling are key to America’s economic growth but are taxed at significantly higher rates than competitors overseas, particularly in China,” he said in the article.
Among the students who participated in the protest were members of Black Student Union and College Democrats. The protest was organized by students from various organizations.
Sophomore Paris Mercier, one of the students who organized the protest, said that she came in support of all WC students, especially because a lot of students were too afraid to come.
“We came out in support of them, for those willing to speak and those who weren’t,” she said.
Kwarysha Howard, sophomore, came out for four specific issues: Medicare for all, tax cuts for the poor, education, and funding for Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“We need to get the Republicans off their asses to actually help the people and not their donors… it personally affects us, and it’s good that we’re out here, so that they know exactly what their Congressmen are doing,” she said.
Vice President of the College Democrats senior Joseph Swit said, “Paul Ryan has continuously put corporate interests and the interests of the GOP and their donors over the majority of Americans and their interests. He hasn’t done anything to stand up to Donald Trump and his deplorable actions.”
Junior Cherie Ciaudella, a member of the College Democrats, said that Ryan’s discussion about corporate tax breaks was disingenuous, and his environmental stances “go against the interests of the people of Maryland in particular,” she said.
About four members from the College Republicans were also present at the protest, but they did not participate.
President Nicholas Roberti, junior, said, “I think that the protests show that American democratic values are alive and well and I am pleased that the protests were conducted in a civil, peaceful, and appropriate manner that did not disrupt the event.”
Dr. Katherine Maynard is a professor of French and a member of Indivisible in Kent & Queen Anne’s counties, which is a political group that works to combat racism, xenophobia, and misogyny, according to their Facebook page.
“We’re here today because Paul Ryan has decided to use Chestertown as a poster child for his tax reform plan, which gives massive tax breaks to corporations with the theory that this money will somehow trickle down to the rest of us,” she said.
Many Chestertown residents also came to the protest.
Penny Block, a member of Indivisible, attended because she said the United States doesn’t have an effective leader.
“It’s one lie after another, one problem after another that doesn’t get solved. We need to be out and let people know how we feel about that,” she said.
Vick Pfeiffer, who has been a resident for 10 years, spoke out against the Republican tax plan and budget, and their tax care reform plan.
He said, “I think everything that comes out of the Republican Party is favoring the rich…it’s all slanted towards helping the people who have a lot, and that’s just not right.”