Pa. Congressman places limits on protesters’ demonstrations

Congressman Mike Kelly posted the sign on all of his offices, including the one in Sharon

Protesters outside of Congressman Mike Kelly's Sharon office.
Protesters outside of Congressman Kelly's Sharon office on Feb. 10.

SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – A Pennsylvania Congressman posted a sign outside his Sharon office, banning protesters from demonstrating inside.

Congressman Mike Kelly posted the sign on all of his offices. He’s now prohibiting demonstrations, taking photos and videos, and over four constituents from coming inside unless they’ve made an appointment beforehand.

Two past protesters said this is aimed at them.

“I guess that we feel like it was an attempt to discourage us and we weren’t going to be discouraged,” said Sheila Nowinski, of Sharon.

“I’m personally waiting for the next sign to say, ‘Only those who voted for Mike Kelly beyond this point,'” said Diane Syphrit, of Hermitage.

They and others have been critical of Kelly, most recently protesting his position on the Affordable Care Act outside of his district location.

Sometimes they took their peaceful demonstrations inside.

The sign says the new restrictions protect other constituents’ privacy, but demonstrators argue that’s how they can get their point across.

“It’s really the only avenue we have available to us. He will not have public town halls,” Syphrit said.

“We believe that is false. We have four full offices — one in Washington, three in the district that accept phone calls, regular email, meeting requests,” said Kelly’s spokesperson, Tom Qualtere.

Kelly announced he will host a free town hall over the phone this Monday, February 27 so his constituents can express their concerns.

Past protesters said the sign has been up for about two weeks and its wording has recently changed.

“He’s made it more restrictive,” Syphrit said.

She said eight people recently went into the office, asking why Congressman Kelly won’t have town halls or meet with them. After that, she said revisions were made to allow only four inside at once.

“We’re a little bit surprised. It gives us the sense they don’t want to talk to us,” Nowinski said.

Kelly’s team said limiting it to four constituents at a time is a safety precaution.

Both Nowinkski and Syphrit said they’ve continued to visit the office despite the restrictions but they no longer take in signs or record their interactions.

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