Harrison County

Small, vocal crowd protests Palazzo, who wasn’t there

A half-dozen people carried signs and chanted for the media outside the congressional district office tucked away in the back of a strip mall not far from the Interstate 10/Cedar Lake interchange.

Their main complaint was a common one: Rep. Steven Palazzo’s refusal to hold town halls to hear their concerns.

“We want a town hall,” they chanted at one point. But Palazzo didn’t hear them. No one from his office ventured out after earlier telling the group Palazzo wasn’t there.

There were people from Ocean Springs, Gulfport, Biloxi and Diamondhead but no out-of-towners. And none of them was getting paid. Some congress members contend the town halls and rallies are being funded by billionaires such as George Soros who are also busing in outside agitators.

“Do you have the checks?” joked Melissa Johnson of Ocean Springs. She wanted to tell Palazzo to back off the Environmental Protection Agency. Palazzo is co-sponsor of a bill that would abolish the EPA, a bill he says was just a warning.

“We understand in a very basic way what will happen if you don’t protect the environment,” said Johnson, who cited the BP oil disaster as one reason the Coast needs the EPA’s protection.

Others didn’t like Palazzo’s vote to allow internet-service providers to sell data about their customers.

Ronald Davis of Gulfport carried a sign that said Palazzo accepted $11,100 from communications companies.

“I think it’s time to look at publicly funding elections,” he said.

Joy Moore agreed.

“I’m not sure how that vote (on the internet-privacy issue) benefits any Mississippian,” she said. “Mostly, we just want him to show up and answer questions.”

She said she has tried over and over to meet with Palazzo at his office, with no luck.

South Mississippi Indivisible still plans to have a town hall at 2 p.m. Sunday at DeMiller Hall, 610 Water Street in Biloxi.

“I really don’t know how many people will be there,” said Ashley Kittrell, one of the organizers. “I’ll be surprised if it’s as big as the one in Long Beach (where about 200 people gathered in February).”

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton