TYLER, TX (KLTV) - After a morning protest in Tyler on Tuesday, a new grassroots organization continues to request a town hall meeting with Congressman Louie Gohmert.
Indivisible of Smith County is a local chapter of the national organization, Indivisible. Members of the local group say their most immediate goal is to speak with the Congressman over concerns about President Trump and his administration's agenda.
"There are a number of people who are very troubled by the divisiveness and the rhetoric that we're hearing right now," Indivisible of Smith County organizer Lee Hancock said.
She says this local chapter is an organization comprised of many different ideologies, with members coming together from across the political spectrum.
"Our members include Republicans ... independents ... libertarians," Hancock said. "We don't agree on everything, but what we agree on is that we all have to live together and find ways to work out really complex problems."
That's their common goal: recognizing that working together is better than "calling each other names" and not being able to find common ground.
"The enemies among us are those who want to be divisive," Hancock said. "It's easy to use a meme or a bumper sticker insult on Facebook. We need to get beyond that."
She says the group doesn't plan to engage in social media banter, rather, the group plans to pursue a more productive manner of protesting. One that Hancock says might lead to real dialogue about healthcare and immigration reform.
That's why they want to speak with Congressman Gohmert. A few members of the local chapter were inside the luncheon the Congressman attended Tuesday and asked him why he was unwilling to hold a town hall.
"I'm not going to put people on my staff and others in East Texas at risk by having an even and having outsiders come in," Congressman Gohmert said in response.
The Congressman citing violent interruptions by outside anarchist groups during otherwise peaceful demonstrations across the country since the January inauguration of President Trump.
Congressman Gohmert did not say this specific group was a violent agitator, but he did express his opinion that the larger Indivisible group is comprised of many paid protesters. However, none of the protesters on the square today were paid by the non-profit organization.
Even though the Congressman says he did not want to hold a town hall, he did say he makes great efforts to reach out to his constituents, citing the "80,000 miles on [his] car in two years all over East Texas." The Congressman also holds telephone town halls, but Indivisible of Smith County hopes their elected representative will hold a person-to-person event in the near future. They wore shirts on Tuesday that said "a phone call is not a town hall."
Lee Hancock says in addition to working directly with elected officials, the group also hopes to evolve social understanding surrounding diversity in America.
"If we decide to call one another 'others' and say 'you don't belong here because of your religion, because of your ethnicity, because of the place that you came from,' then we're really ripping the fabric of the country," she said.
Hancock was born in Mississippi, she moved to East Texas in the 1990's. And as for the group she helps lead, it's still new to East Texas. Though the members that comprise its ranks are not.
"We're not saying that we have all the right answers," she said. "We're saying that we're your neighbors. We're your friends. We're your colleagues at work ... people who are common citizens."