Rep. Buddy Carter's town hall gets heated, hundreds left outside

Rep. Buddy Carter's town hall gets heated, hundreds left outside
Published: Feb. 21, 2017 at 8:08 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2017 at 9:49 AM EST
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Rep. Buddy Carter held a town hall in the Armstrong Center of Armstrong State University on Tuesday afternoon.

The packed audience was vocal, asking questions spanning many issues. The crowd was so large there were many people left out in the lobby of the auditorium because of the lack of space inside.

Just before the town hall was scheduled to start, police were manning the entrances to the auditorium to say the room had reached capacity per fire code.

But people kept showing up and eventually hundreds crowded into the front lobby of the Armstrong Center, some carrying signs and wearing t-shirts for a number of causes from Planned Parenthood supporters to supporters of the Affordable Care Act.

No matter who they voted for or where they stood on any issue, the people left out of the town hall were all united in that they wished they could've just made it in to hear their congressman speak.

"Town halls all across the country have been attracting large crowds of people who have a vested interest in what's going on in the government. And for them not to book a venue that would accommodate all these people so that our voice could be heard, it's just frustrating. And I think that's what you're hearing here, is really just the frustration of people not, they are not being heard," said Paul Daniels.

[FULL: Watch Rep. Buddy Carter's town hall meeting at the Armstrong Center on Tuesday] 

Rep. Carter spoke and took questions for over an hour, at times drawing raucous applause and thunderous boos. There were those claiming allegiance to Carter and the Trump Administration and others against. Some just wanted questions answered on a variety of topics.

But it was clear inside and outside the auditorium, anger and frustration dominated much of the discussions.

"I hope Congressman Carter notices all the people who didn't get into the auditorium. Maybe he should've chosen a bigger venue," said Susan Burns, Abigail's member.

When the fire code max capacity was met for the auditorium, those left outside got restless, looking for a way to still be heard.

"Animosity. That's all it does. And it only makes me more enthused about what Trump is doing," said Robert Thornton, who was stuck outside the town hall meeting.

Inside the town hall meeting, a question and answer session, peppered with interruptions from those for or against whatever topic being discussed, followed.

"Can you assure that you will tackle climate change by supporting continued U.S. inclusion in the Paris Climate Agreement and work to reduce greenhouse gasses," asked an audience member.

"Yes, I intend to do whatever we can do to protect our area," replied Rep. Carter.

The topic most frequently visited inside the auditorium, was the future of the Affordable Care Act.

"If your constituents do not want you to repeal the ACA, will you have the guts to go against Republicans in your party, and the President, and stand with us and say 'no,'" asked a town hall participant.

"No," replied Rep. Carter.

After the meeting, Rep. Carter met with us to explain his stance and to reassure his constituents.

"I understand people were concerned, I understand people are scared about what the future holds. But they can be reassured that we're going to make sure that we cover pre-existing conditions. We're going to make sure that we cover 26-year-olds to allow them to be on their parent's insurance. And we're going to make sure that we have a stable transition period. We're not going to pull the rug out from underneath anyone," Rep. Carter said.

At least one person was put in handcuffs for a short time outside the town hall. He was later released.

We do know that Savannah-Chatham Metro officers were assisting Armstrong University Police with crowd control. We are waiting to hear back from the university about any other issues during the town hall.

If you could not make it on Tuesday, you have four more opportunities to address the congressman in person. Wednesday, he has two town halls. One is in Wayne County and another in Ware County. Thursday, there are town halls in Glynn County and Camden County.

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