About 20 people involved in the local Stop CAFTA Campaign showed up for the town hall meeting with Representative Vern Ehlers at the Ford Museum. The Stop CAFTA Campaign people were there to hand out information on a trade proposal, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which has received virtually no media attention locally, collect signatures for a petition asking Ehlers to vote no on CAFTA, and to ask questions during the town hall meeting.
As has been the practice in recent years at the Ford Museum any evidence of public dissent towards government policy has been met with intimidation and harassment. People were simply standing outside of the Ford Museum, some with signs, others with big milk cartons to reflect jobs loss, and others with flyers and clipboards collection signatures. Museum security quickly came out to inform people that they could not protest on Federal property. Most of those present moved to the end of the property, but a few stayed and continued to ask people to sign the petition. The security people then threatened to call the Grand Rapids Police if everyone didn’t move. They told the security guards that they were citizens asking other citizens before a town hall meeting to support a campaign to get area legislators to vote against a trade policy. Some might call this democracy. Minutes later 3 GRPD cars arrived to tell them they could not be there. The officers were visibly not excited about “enforcing the law,” but the few remaining people moved off of federal property, now forced to yell at people approaching the building if they wanted to sign the petition against CAFTA.