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Protesters rally outside Rep. Katko’s office, bringing along a giant chicken resembling President Donald Trump

Phil Bryant | Staff Photographer

At the recent protest against the GOP tax plan, attendees threatened to vote Rep. John Katko out of office.

A 10-foot giant inflatable chicken with hair resembling President Donald Trump’s was propped up outside Rep. John Katko’s (R-N.Y.) office on Wednesday, as a group of protesters angrily denounced the congressman’s approval of a contentious House of Representatives tax bill.

The inflatable was nearly identical to another massive chicken that was set outside the White House in August as a protest stunt.

“These GOP are too chicken to stand up to their big donors,” Jonah Minkoff-Zern yelled to the crowd. Minkoff-Zern is an activist with the CNY Solidarity Coalition, a social justice group based in central New York. He helped lead the event.

Most people in the crowd held signs denouncing Katko. Some of them read “#shameonkatko,” “Stop the Trump tax scam” and “Please tax me like a millionaire!”

Protesters also chanted, “Shame on Katko!” several times during the rally, which lasted about 30 minutes on a sidewalk along South Warren Street. They booed at the mention of a proposed elimination of tax deductions for college students, which was included in the tax bill the House passed late last month.

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“It’s not that they just want us to not have money to support ourselves and be able to take care of ourselves, they don’t want us to be able to educate and upgrade ourselves either,” one man said.

The crowd roared, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” up at Katko’s office, which is located on the seventh floor of the Mackenzie Hughes Tower.

Ann Marie Taliercio, president of the Central New York Area Labor Federation, said she was upset by Katko’s town halls. The congressman has hosted town halls over phone conference calls, as opposed to in-person events.

“We are your constituents,” Taliercio said. “If I represented my members the way he represents us, the law would be after me.”

Outgoing Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner hosted a town hall Tuesday night at the city’s Common Council Chambers to discuss the tax plan with residents. Packing the venue, speakers frequently asked about Katko’s whereabouts and urged Miner to run against him for Congress in 2018.

At the protest on Wednesday, Elaine Denton, a member of the CNY Solidarity Coalition, asked the crowd why GOP lawmakers have included a provision in the House tax bill that would include an oil and gas leasing program in an Alaskan wildlife refuge.  

“We are opposed to opening up this pristine area just so that some people can get a tax cut, so wealthy people can get a tax cut,” said David Alicea, an organizing representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “It doesn’t make sense from a climate perspective.”

A representative from Planned Parenthood called on the crowd to chant, “Women’s rights are human rights.”

The Planned Parenthood representative said a GOP tax plan could endanger people’s health care options in central New York.

A tax bill passed by the House would eliminate an Affordable Care Act provision that requires most people to have health insurance, which would raise health insurance premiums across the country, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Rev. Andrea Abbott, of the First Universalist Church in Central Square, a town about 20 miles north of Syracuse, said she protested the tax plan on Tuesday at congressional offices in Washington, D.C. Several people she protested with were arrested, she said.

“I don’t like to see my country torn apart in the way it is,” Abbott said.







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