CHESTERTOWN — Community members and those with Members of Indivisible of Kent and Queen Anne's Counties gathered outside Dixon Valve & Coupling Co. Thursday protesting House Speak Paul Ryan's visit to Chestertown.
"We are not protesting Dixon, (CEO) Dick Goodall is a good person and has done great things for the community, but we're mad that Ryan is here," Cindy Stafford, of Betterton, said. "I'm not sure why he's here."
Ryan, along with U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-1st District), and jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers were visiting Dixon Valve to tout the Republican plan for tax reform. The proposal aims to grow the economy and the manufacturing sector.
Stafford is a member of Indivisible. She said she came to the protest so Ryan could see that people are unhappy with him.
"We're dealing with an administration that does not speak for us," said Melissa McGlynn, of Chestertown. "(President Donald) Trump is despicable and Ryan won't stand up against him. It's our duty then to flex our First Amendment right."
About 50 protesters began to line both sides of High Street about a half an hour before Ryan's expected arrival at 2 p.m. Chants by the protestors included: Health care for all, not just Paul.
Though many were from Indivisible, a few in the crowd were community members who were not affiliated with any group but wanted to show Ryan their displeasure with current politics.
Jonathan Chace said he is not a member of Indivisible and came to air his grievances about Ryan.
"I want to register my concern about the direction the country is going," Chace said. "I have not seen Ryan condemn Trump at all for his racism as he expresses it."
Additionally, some Washington College students joined the protest following Ryan's arrival.
"Trump keeps making tax cuts for the rich and refusing to help the victims of Hurricane (Maria)," said Gaviota Hernández Owinones, a Washington College student from Puerto Rico. "He humiliated my people after the hurricane."
She along with along with six other college students protested with chants and wore shirts that spelled out "traitor." They were joined by two professors from the college.
Three members of the WAC College Republicans Club also gathered outside Dixon, but in an effort to get a picture with Ryan.
"They can believe what they want," William Lesoravage, a sophomore at Washington College, said of the protesters. "You can exercise the right to free speech although some of their signs are funny."
The protest was mostly met with thumbs-up and waves from drivers who passed by High Street. However, one driver yelled "get a life you scum" out the window as he passed and another called the protesters "fools."
Many of the protesters made it clear that their intent was to show displeasure at Ryan and not at the Dixon.
Kitty Maynard, a member of Indivisible and from Chestertown, said she believes that the visit was simply a photo opportunity for Ryan and not a chance to talk to people.
"He gives tax breaks to people who do not need them, based on this trickle-down theory we've had since Reagan," Maynard said. "it does not work, and it never has. It creates income inequality."
Following his tour of the Dixon Valve plant, Ryan answered questions from company employees and held a brief news conference for reporters inside.
The protesters lined High Street for about two hours. They were not permitted to get close to Dixon Vlave as Chestertown police officers, including Chief Adrian Baker, had the front of the building blocked off. Still, the protesters lined the sidewalk in front of the building on both sides of High Street.
"There's a lack of leadership and inability to address any of the issues," Fred Kiesser of Rock Hall said.
After about an hour and a half many of the protesters had to return to their homes or jobs, while others continued to hold up signs for drivers passing by as they waited for Ryan to leave Dixon.
"Dissent is patriotic," Merry Guben, a Worton resident and a member of Indivisible, said. "It is our obligation to speak up as citizens. We need to stand up for our rights."