Several dozen community members and leaders gathered outside the New York Congressional District 3 office in Douglaston on Saturday, Jan. 7, to protest against Congressman George Santos. The protesters, outraged over Santos’ fabrications about his educational, occupational, ancestral and religious backgrounds, demanded either his resignation or for Congress to launch an ethics investigation into him and his campaign.
As many of those present at the protest chanted their disgust with Santos and showed off their signs against him, those who spoke attempted to amplify their anger and concerns in a constructive way.
Between all the lies Santos told throughout his successful campaign and the multiple investigations he’s currently involved in, many of his constituents are doubtful that he will be able to adequately represent them. Santos has already stated he does not intend to resign. However, many of his Republican colleagues in Congress have tried to distance themselves from him, which provided hope among many District 3 residents that new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would be willing to launch an ethics investigation into him and, ultimately, back a vote to expel him from Congress. As long as Santos remains their congressman, many of the residents feel as though not much will get done in the district.
Among those who addressed the public at the protest were Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, Santos’ Democratic opponent in the congressional race Robert Zimmerman, North Hempstead Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey, Great Neck resident and creator of a Change.org petition calling upon Santos to resign Jody Finkel and Reema Rasool, who ran for the Democratic nominee of the Congressional race.
“When George Santos was elected early on, I had every intention of trying to work with him,” Braunstein said. “But that was before we found out that he was a pathological liar. That was before he became a national laughingstock. I can’t, in good conscience, refer constituents to his office for services. I certainly can’t suggest to local community groups and nonprofits that they reach out to him for federal funding. He’s basically useless to us right now.”
Braunstein also suggested that Santos likely wouldn’t be effective on federal level in Congress should he remain there. In addition to pointing out how many of his colleagues attempted to avoid being spotted near him, Braunstein said some New York state colleagues have told him that they can’t trust him. Some have even questioned whether or not he could even effectively govern at this point. Braunstein concluded his speech by calling upon House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to launch an ethics investigation into Santos.
In addition to speaking out against the lies Santos told, a main point of discussion was a recent incident in which it appeared as though Santos flashed the White Power sign as he cast his vote for speaker of the House. While it is not known whether or not this was the intent, the incident has nonetheless added to the outrage over him representing such a diverse community despite lying about his religion and heritage.
Newly elected freshman Rep. George Santos (R-NY) makes White power gesture as he casts his vote for House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.
*Reuters Photo by Evelyn Hockstein @evelynpix pic.twitter.com/54LKgigoQx
— The Intellectualist (@highbrow_nobrow) January 6, 2023
“Our fight is to demand that we have a House ethics investigation and that Congress does not, under Speaker McCarthy, gut funding from the ethics committee,” Zimmerman said. “Our challenge in front of us is to make sure that everyone remembers not just the lies and frauds and crimes that George Santos represents, but the hate he represents through his white supremacist behavior. We have a mission in front of us. It’s a mission to restore decency and democracy to the United States Congress. It’s a mission to restore sane and safe and fair representation for our congressional district.”
Rasool stressed the importance of the community being able to have a representative they can believe in. She said the responsibility falls upon those at the protest to set a good example for their children by showing that lying to achieve success can’t stand.
“What we are going through is a tragedy,” Rasool said. “It’s not about left and right. It’s about right and wrong. This is not normal and we deserve better.”
In addition to local leaders, those who spoke at the protest also included some of is organizers. While some of them are young, they understand the importance of making their voices heard.