Upset over unemployment, protesters picket Wilson's Beaufort office

August 10, 2011 

"That's good," said Sun City's Mary Kay Montgomery as she looked at Hilton Head Islander John Giles' protest sign. The two were part of a group of about 30 people from the Low Country American Dream Council, which is sponsored by Moveon.org to counter the Tea Party movement, who protested outside the Beaufort office of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson on Wednesday morning. "This is my first time doing this, but I've been pushed over the edge," Montgomery said. "I don't see giving these tax breaks to the wealthy when police officers, firemen and teachers are losing their jobs."

JAY KARR, THE ISLAND PACKET

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Protesters outside U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's office in Beaufort joined demonstrators nationwide Wednesday to demand a congressional response to what they believe is a mounting job crisis.

About 30 protesters stood outside the Republican's office on Port Republic Street as part of hundreds of "Where are the Jobs?" protests nationwide Wednesday. The local event was organized by the Lowcountry American Dream Council, a chapter of a national group created by MoveOn.org in response to the tea party movement.

Wilson, of West Columbia, represents the 2nd District, which includes Beaufort County.

The protesters took aim at Wilson's "Joe Means Jobs" reelection campaign last year, during which he job-shadowed constituents as they worked repairing cars and flipping pancakes.

Jim Hoerner, coordinator of the Lowcountry American Dream Council, said he and a small group of demonstrators met for about 35 minutes with a Wilson staff member to voice the council's concern.

Hoerner, of Sun City Hilton Head, described the discussion as civil but said group members believe Wilson isn't doing enough to bring more jobs to the Lowcountry.

"He's not supported taking the stimulus money and other earmarks that could help create jobs," Hoerner said. "He's not supporting the things in Congress he needs to support to meet the needs of the people of this state. The way this has all played out in Washington, D.C., has been a travesty."

The American Dream Council also helped organized a protest at Wilson's office July 26 to rally against the Republican Party's response to the U.S. debt-limit negotiations, and it plans to continue lobbying Wilson and other members of Congress for programs it supports to stimulate the economy, according to the group's website.

Neal Patel, a Wilson spokesman, downplayed the protests.

"Congressman Wilson welcomes everyone, especially constituents, to stop by the office and express their opinions," Patel said in a statement. "Most importantly, he appreciates constituents actively making an effort to have their voices heard."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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