Tensions High at Congressional Town Hall

Nicolas Ungurean



Vol. 52/ Issue 10

On the night of Wednesday, April 3, Ursinus College hosted United States Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania’s fourth congressional district for a town hall meeting. Dean serves in the House of Representative under the Democratic Party. As residents were beginning to file into Bomberger Auditorium for the town hall, there were several individuals handing out flyers to the crowd that said things such as, “Dean talks like a humanitarian but votes like a war monger” as well as “Abandon Dean 2024.” 

Congresswoman Dean kicked off the town hall by briefly outlining her agenda for the meeting, and – barely a minute in – chaos erupted. Protesters began to shout at Dean, as one man yelled, “You called for a ceasefire in Palestine and then you voted to send $3.9 billion to Israel for death and destruction!” Another protester in the back of the auditorium stood up and shouted, “You have blood on your hands, shame on you!” Other protesters joined in while simultaneously, some residents called for Campus Safety to remove them and for the police to be called. One resident shouted back at the protesters and said, “Leave my country!” The disruptions went on for about five minutes until campus safety removed the protesters.

Congresswoman Dean returned to her agenda as planned. First, she briefly recapped some of the major laws that were passed during Congress’s last session such as the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act. After this, she outlined what her constituents voted as the most pressing issues in need of solutions. In order, these issues were border security, foreign affairs (Israel and Ukraine), the economy, abortion, and gun violence. She reassured the crowd that these are issues she is determined to address. Additionally, Congresswoman Dean outlined some financial community investments that are planned for the district in 2024. These investments include $3.82 million towards the Cheltenham Township La Mott Community Center, $1.2 million towards MCHA’s Affordable Housing Preservation Initiative, $1 million towards Habitat for Humanity Pottstown Dairy Redevelopment and $1 million towards the Ursinus College Main Street Revitalization. 

Dean concluded the night with a question and answer session for residents, the main topic of which was the war going on between Israel and Hamas, as she phrased it. One resident asked, “You call for a ceasefire, but on Easter you sent $3.9 billion to Israel. Why do you still fund this war?” In her response, Dean said she believed Israel has a right to defend itself, but she does not agree with how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is proceeding with the war. She stated she believes that there needs to be a ceasefire and that this conflict in the Middle East has been one of the most challenging circumstances she has faced during her time in Congress. She also noted that as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she had the opportunity to travel to Israel with other members of Congress and meet with Netanyahu. She assured the crowd that while there, she was able to personally voice her concerns to the Prime Minister. 

Another resident said to Dean, “Me and my entire family voted for you and President Biden, and we now regret that. We feel betrayed. You have shown tremendous compassion for Ukraine, but I haven’t heard any of that in favor of Palestinian citizens. How do you live with yourself?” Dean said she sympathized with the resident, stating that she felt his pain and that what is happening in Gaza is unacceptable. She went on to say that she continues to demand a ceasefire and for the hostages held by Hamas to be returned home.

The town hall certainly had its tensions and even some fireworks, as it addressed local, national, and international topics, some of which were tumultuous and polarizing.