Thursday afternoon members of Indivisible Washington 8, a congressional advocacy group working out of Washington's 8th Congressional District, went to visit Congressman Dave Reichert's district office in Issaquah.
This time they were visiting to express their dissatisfaction with the two late statements Reichert issued about Trump's family separation policy, to ask him to vote against the two Republican measures on the House floor, and to instead support Rep. Jerrold Nadler's bill to keep families together. But this time, the meeting didn't go the way it normally does.
When they gathered in the parking lot before entering, the property manager for the building that houses Reichert's office told them to leave. She then informed the group that the cops had already been called.
I called Kyle Development, the company that manages the building, and a man answered the phone. He told me his name was “George,” and when I asked if he called the cops on the Indivisible members he said he “wasn’t there” but thinks they should have all been “hauled off to jail.”
He added that he knew the person who called the cops on the Indivisible members but would not tell me that person's name. "The protestors should have never been there. They were illegally trespassing, the building is posted, and [the police] should have hauled them all to jail,” George said.
That same day, a group of Indivisible Wenatchee members faced a locked door bound with a red strap when they tried to enter Reichert's district office in Wenatchee.
Sharing more details from our attempted visit to our "representative" @davereichert office in Wenatchee. They locked the door. #KeepFamiliesTogether @IndivisibleTeam @Indivisible_WA8 pic.twitter.com/lb7DR5kzdA
— Chris Petzold 🚴♀️🌊 (@chris_p_2010) June 21, 2018
Reichert's office has not responded to my calls and e-mails requesting comment. I’d love to talk to Reichert about this, but he never responds. In fact, the only time his office has ever responded was the day he announced his retirement.
Stephen Cox, a member of Indivisible Washington 8 who was part of the group in Issaquah, said the three cop cars pulled up right as the group walked into the door. They went to Reichert's office and spoke to the staff for about five minutes until a single officer entered and stood behind them. Indivisible delivered their message and promptly left.
"All we want to do is talk quietly, say our piece, and see if we can get some action, which we know is futile," says Indivisible Washington 8 member Janice Cox, Stephen's mom. Cox says they've been "quiet and respectful" every time they've visited Reichert's office.
Stephen Cox says the funny thing about all this, to him, is that Reichert "refuses to take a stand on anything that matters, but the one thing he takes a stand on is locking his constituents out of his office."
And he ain't lying. Reichert's so scared of his constituents he falsely implied that threats to his office had risen since Trump's election. And he's so famous for dodging his constituents that last year he was tapped to lead a closed-door meeting concerning proper safety measures representatives should take to "protect themselves and their staffs from protesters storming town halls and offices."
But these Indivisible activists—who've been working for a while now—are not "storming" town halls and offices. They're constituents participating in the most basic activities of representative Democracy. Hiding from them behind "No Trespassing" signs isn't just cowardly, it's fundamentally anti-Democratic.
And they deserve an answer to their question about where Reichert stands on the issue of family separation. His first statement suggested he was going to do nothing about separating parents from their children and imprisoning them for an undetermined amount of time: "As we enforce our laws and secure our border, we should protect and not punish children." His "additional thoughts" on the matter, which were published two days later, included stronger language: "I call on the President to put a stop to these policies at the border immediately; we must keep these families together." And now today, in his explanation for why he didn't vote for the first Rep. Goodlatte bill, he suggests he might vote for the bullshit "compromise bill," which is a draconian measure that also allows for families to be detained indefinitely: "This vote was only the first of several that will seek to address flaws within our immigration system. Throughout this process, I remain committed to updating and reforming our immigration system, so that it protects children and families and meets the needs of businesses and workers.”
Reichert's waffling on this issue is baffling. He's retiring. If he was truly scandalized by the family separation policy, he could have said so—loud and proud. If he really wanted to lead a bipartisan effort to protect DACA recipients, he could have done so. Last year he cosponsored a bill with Rep. Pramila Jayapal called the BRIDGE Act, which would have protected DACA recipients from deportation. He already has this shit ready to go.
The only way his position makes any sense is if you understand that Reichert is deeply, deeply committed to serving as a pawn for Republican leadership. A rubber stamp til the very end.