Anti-Trump protesters heckled a pastor at Rep. Jack Bergman's (R., Mich.) town hall on Monday evening.
As Pastor Dean Reid, an Air Force veteran and chaplain of the Grand Traverse Area Veteran Coalition, prepared to deliver an invocation at the start of the Traverse City town hall discussion dozens of protesters interrupted to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with scattered booing in the auditorium. It was the first of numerous interruptions, outbursts, and vulgar heckling directed at Bergman, a retired Marine general.
Bergman said the protesters went beyond disagreeing with his positions, adding that it set a bad example for several students who attended the event for extra credit in a civics class.
"There was a group of people last night whose only goal was to disrupt and disturb," he told the Washington Free Beacon. "I feel bad for the many students from Traverse City Central who were there to receive extra credit for their classes and had to witness the disrespect shown to those who actually came to dialogue."
The protesters did not stop at the prayer. Several cried "you're disgusting" as Bergman took the stage, while others called out "grab her by the pussy," repeating Donald Trump's infamous quote from a leaked Access Hollywood tape, as he answered questions from constituents, some of whom shushed the hecklers.
"I think we got a little crazy here," Bergman told the crowd before bringing the town hall to a close. "I look forward to the next time we get together."
Bergman was elected to Congress in 2016, winning 55 percent of the vote to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Dan Benishek in the conservative Upper Peninsula of the state. He was unapologetic about his views and sees his conservatism and support for President Trump as reflective of the majority of his district.
"I ran as an outsider, conservative, and Federalist, and since being elected, the self-proclaimed resistance wants me to govern as a far-left liberal—and that’s just not who I am or why I got elected," Bergman said.
Bergman spokesman James Hogge said Monday evening's protests were the most aggressive he had seen, saying that other participants in the opening ceremony were intimidated by the hostile crowd, including a Boy Scout troop that led the official Pledge of Allegiance. He said the disruptions were an exception, rather than the norm at other community events Bergman has held in his home district.
"The crowd of disrupters were so belligerent that the Boy Scouts who volunteered to open the event with the Pledge of Allegiance were scared to even go on to the stage," the spokesman said. "The general has had half a dozen community engagement events over the past couple of weeks, and all of the other meetings have been respectful and courteous in spite of differing viewpoints."
Bergman will continue to support the administration in spite of opposition, according to Hogge.
"He supports our President's agenda, and I think it speaks volumes about the current state of American politics when people are totally shocked and appalled when an elected official votes exactly how they said they would during the campaign," he said.
Bergman said he intends to continue holding town halls and other community events, even if he comes across future opposition. He added the adult protesters should follow the example set by the students in attendance.
"I'm thankful for all of the constituents who came out to talk about issues that are important to them," he said. "These kids were an example to many of the adults in attendance on what civility and respect is all about—our future is bright."
The footage of the protest can be seen here.