Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has become the latest Republican to face public protest over the Trump administration’s immigration policies, as demonstrators chanting “Vote you out!” and “Abolish ICE!” pursued him across a restaurant parking lot in his hometown.
More than half a dozen protesters from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and other groups confronted Mr McConnell as he left the Bristol Bar & Grille in Louisville, Kentucky this weekend, according to the Louisville DSA.
One of the protesters, DSA member Andrew Massie, told The Independent that he and several others were attending an immigration rally nearby when they learned of Mr McConnell’s location via social media. Several members drove over to the local eatery and waited outside for the leader to emerge.
When Mr McConnell did leave the restaurant, clad in a plaid button down and flocked by two other men, the protesters followed them across the parking lot chanting things like "No justice, no peace!”.
Others repeated the recent left-wing rallying cry of "Abolish ICE," referring to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that handles immigrant detention and deportation.
In video recorded by Mr Massie, one protester can be heard calling, “Where are the babies, Mitch?” – a reference to a Trump administration policy that resulted in more than 2,000 immigrant children being separated from their families at the border.
Another man can be heard calling Mr McConnell “turtle head” and yelling: “We know where you live, too, Mitch! We know where you live!” The DSA said in a statement that the man was not a member of the organisation.
Mr McConnell and the two other men – one of whom was identified as Kentucky state Representative Jonathan Shell by the Louisville Courier Journal – got into their car without incident.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the Louisville DSA said Mr McConnell “can expect to be protested as a public figure if he supports policies like those which detain babies in camps and separate families”.
“We continue to call upon Mitch McConnell to support the release of all immigrants from detention and the abolition of ICE,” they added.
While Saturday’s protest centred around federal immigration policies, Mr Massie, a Kentucky native, said he wanted to protest Mr McConnell’s record in Kentucky as well.
“In the last few years, he has been an obstructionist to any kind of progress, he has hurt working families, and has been complicit with the fascist creep and rise of Trumpism in America,” Mr Massie said. “We wanted him to know we were aware of his presence and we don't agree with his actions.”
A spokesperson for Mr McConnell responded in a statement, saying: “If the Leader comments on being called a fascist and a supporter of ICE by a small handful of extremist protesters then I will let you know.”
Mr McConnell is the latest of several Republicans to face public protest in recent weeks, as outcry over the separation of immigrant families grows. Protesters drove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen out of a Washington restaurant, and a Virginia restaurant owner refuses to serve White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Mr McConnell himself was confronted by protesters while leaving a Georgetown University event last month. The crowd played audio of immigrant children who had been separated from their parents as Mr McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, left the event.
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