Hundreds of people gathered outside the building where Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick’s district office is located at the corner of Newtown-Langhorne Road and the Newtown Bypass in Middletown.
The rain and chilly temperatures did not stop citizens from coming out on Tuesday evening. The largest crowd was calling on the congressman to vote to impeach President Donald Trump, while a significantly smaller crowd voiced their support for the president.
Earlier on Tuesday, Fitzpatrick announced he would not support impeachment.
The pro-impeachment rally was organized by MoveOn.org and PA Statewide Indivisible. It featured a number of speakers and collected 629 signatures that will be delivered to the congressman’s staff.
The event was one of more than 600 planned across the country.
“Impeachment is the most severe sanction available to Congress,” said Kierstyn Zolfo, legislative chair for PA Statewide Indivisible. “The president’s undeniable stonewalling of Congress and denying the legislative branch access to both witnesses and evidence blocks their ability to perform oversight, a mission that is critical to the checks and balances built into our nation’s Constitution. Both that and Trump’s shakedown of Ukraine for his own political benefit are abuses that cannot go unchallenged. Our Representative needs to put our country over his party and vote yes on both articles.”
The crowd displayed dozens of handmade signs calling for the president’s impeachment. The crowd cheered for the speakers and chanted “do his job” as they called on Fitzpatrick to put country over political party.
“We are urging Representative Fitzpatrick to recognize that our democracy is in grave danger, and to do his job and uphold his oath to protect and defend the Constitution,” Laura Rose, grassroots organizing chair for PA Statewide Indivisible.
While they did not speak at the event, Democratic congressional candidates Debra Wachspress, Judi Reiss, and new entrant Skylar Hurwitz were on hand and greeted supporters. Candidate Dr. Christina Finello supported the movement but was unable to attend.
Dean Malik and Don Beishl Jr., who host a conservative talk show on WWDB-AM, organized the pro-Trump rally that took place in the same office complex parking lot, just yards away from the pro-impeachment event.
As many as 150 Trump supporters showed up, which Beishl said was good considering the counter event was planned only on Monday.
Jim Worthington, the owner of the Newtown Athletic Club and a vocal Trump supporter, said the idea wasn’t to match the pro-impeachment rally person for person. He told the crowd he started the People For Trump group and is behind a federal political action committee to support the president.
Malik called the pro-impeachment crowd a “mob” and said the smaller Trump group wouldn’t cave to them.
Andrew Meehan, a pro-Trump candidate running a primary bid against Fitzpatrick, was on hand and said the congressman was a “fake Republican.” He worked the crowd to gain traction ahead of the 2020 primary.
There were no major confrontations between the two groups with different views on impeachment. A few people from each side ended up walking over to the other rally to observe.
The pro-impeachment crowd began to chant “lock him up” after the Trump crowd started shouting “four more years.” Zolfo told the impeachment supporters that wasn’t the message they wanted to share and the crowd quickly quieted.
One Trump supporter upset by the “lock him up” chant, which echoed a popular one encouraged by Trump at campaign rallies, cursed at the pro-impeachment crowd and then calmed down.
Middletown police were on the scene but mainly stayed to the sidelines.
Both rallies featured American flags and renditions of the “National Anthem.”
Editor’s Note: Publisher/Editor Tom Sofield’s father, Chris, is working as Meehan’s campaign manager.