Tech Student Democrats Stage Protest Outside Neugebauer's Office

By Abbie Arroyos and Evan Dixon

The Texas Tech Student Democrats protested Monday outside  the district office of U. S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, after the politician argued with a National Park Service ranger in Washington, D.C., last week in a video that went viral.

photo 1

A small group of Texas Tech students along with several Lubbock residents held signs and a megaphone as they stood in front of the building that houses Neugebauer’s district office at the intersection of University and Glenna Goodacre.

The students said the main focus of their protest was to receive an apology for the Park Service ranger and for the representative’s constituents.

TSD’s vice president, Raul Cevallos, said the congressman’s constituents should be upset by the way he conducts himself in Washington.

“Our organization is disappointed in the way that congressman Neugebauer, once again, is able to attract national media attention to himself by acting in an inappropriate and offensive manner,” Cevallos said. “This is not the first time that this has happened. Every one of his constituents should be upset with the way that he’s representing West Texas right now.”

Heather Vaughan, Neugebauer’s spokeswoman, issued a statement from Neugebauer, defending his actions.

“Just like everyone else, I too was caught up in the emotion and frustration of the moment, seeing our greatest generation in wheelchairs and walkers denied access to their memorial,” the statement said. “Could I have handled it better? Of course. But they stood up for us, and I was standing up for them.”Official

TSD’s president, Lauren Roblez, said today was chosen for the date of the protest because the video and Neugebauer’s comments were still relevant.

“It recently happened, it’s still circulating in the news, so we’re trying to do it before it actually dies down out of the news cycles,” Roblez said. “We’re just trying to get out here while the issue is still relevant, not only to the nation, but to the people here within the city that know about it.”

Vaughan said in a phone interview that the congressman regretted his tone but was caught up in the emotion of the moment.

“He certainly regrets that his tone was not ideal, but I think that he was frustrated, and he was frustrated that these veterans were being denied access to their memorial,” Vaughan said. “And the World War II memorial was built with private funding too. And he was frustrated, but he certainly did not intend to make it seem like that ranger’s fault, she was just doing her job.”

Despite the congressman issuing a statement of regret about the incident on his website, Roblez said TSD was still seeking a formal apology.

“It’s one thing to say you regret it and it’s another to issue a formal apology statement,” Roblez said. “That’s what we’re looking for. We’re also looking for a statement that he will do anything and everything within his effort to assure that he is doing his part in restoring the government.”

The congressman was in Washington Monday working with other House Republicans to pass legislation that would fund the federal government but defund the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

The partial government shutdown began last Monday night after the House and Senate could not come to an agreement on passing a resolution to fund the government.

photo 4 (2)Due to the partial government shutdown, the Park Service erected barricades around the World War II Memorial and much of the National Mall,  according to the Park Service’s contingency plan, preventing the public from entering the memorial.

According to an interview with KCBD, Neugebauer said he became aware on Wednesday that National Park Service rangers were allegedly letting some World War II veterans into the memorial and not others, which led to Neugebauer confronting a Park Service ranger who was preventing some people access to the memorial, as per her job duties.

Footage of the exchange was caught on tape by NBC 4  Washington, and showed the lawmaker arguing with the park ranger about denying some people access to the memorial, and has since gone viral and been replayed on several media outlets nationwide.

 

About Abbie Arroyos

Investigative Reporter    —    Journalism major, Class of 2014
Abbie comes from Hereford, Texas, where her interest in journalism kindled from reading and discussing the local newspapers with her family every day at dinner. In her final year at Texas Tech, Abbie wants to start a journalism/media relations career in either New York or London, or pursue a graduate degree in Media and Communication.

%d bloggers like this: