A swath of protesters populated the sidewalk in front of Congressman Steve King’s office on Monday afternoon.
The protest was organized by NextGen Iowa. Those in attendance called King racist and condemned various statements he has made, as well as positions he has held.
“A lot of people think that, because this executive order was signed last week, this issue is solved and it’s over with,” said Mara Kealey, an organizer with NextGen Iowa. That is not the case at all. There are still 2,000 separated families with no transition plan at all, and, at the end of the day, Steve King is still our representative. He is letting this go on. We want the Ames community, the ISU community and everyone to know: Steve King is a blatant racist; he doesn’t represent any immigrant values.”
Haley Hager, the Ames director for NextGen Iowa, said the group is working to replace Steve King in November.
“We are mobilizing and showing Steve King that we won’t stand up with his hateful rhetoric,” Hager said. “We are showing him that we will vote for progressive leaders like J.D. Scholten in November.”
Several speakers addressed the crowd, including Joni Landeros, an organizer with NetGen Iowa and a junior in anthropology at Iowa State.
“[Steve King] has established the idea that it’s okay to be racist among folks of privilege,” Landeros said. “Who aren’t affected by his laws.”
Chelle Bee, a member of the Choctaw tribe and Ames resident, addressed the crowd about the persecution of Indigenous peoples of North America. Bee also took issue with the practices and policies of King and the Trump administration.
“We’re disgusted at being represented by such an individual,” Bee said.
Bee also criticized what she sees as a lack of empathy when saying something she wishes to say to King.
“I imagine staying hard and callous is much easier than caring, for someone like you, and I feel sorry for you,” Bee said.
King has come under criticism at various times in his career as a representative. Recently, King has faced criticism for support of policies that separated children from parents at the Mexican border and retweeting a British fascist in support of stopping the entrance of migrants into the United States.
NextGen America is a political nonprofit, of which NextGen Iowa is a branch of. NextGen America began as an environmental advocacy group and has since expanded their scope to include immigrant rights and health care, according to their website.
Emily Berch and Devyn Leeson contributed reporting to this article.