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Protest Awaits Senator McConnell's Visit to Covington

Senator Mitch McConnell will address the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati Chambers of Commerce on Thursday at Hotel Covington where guests will dine on their choice of buttermilk fried chicken or seared Atlantic salmon.

But outside, protest is on the menu.

Local activists plan to shut down part of Seventh Street next to the hotel as a large crowd is expected to express its disagreement with McConnell.

"It is in response to, as of right now, Mitch McConnell hasn't scheduled a town hall to hear from his constituents, but he has scheduled meetings with three chambers of commerce in Kentucky," said Connie Grubbs, of Ft. Thomas, one of the organizers of what has been dubbed a "People Before Profits" protest. "We are here, we will persist, and we want to be heard."

"Persist" references McConnell's recent public feud with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whom he shut down during a recent debate in the Senate. “Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech,” he said at the time. “She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” 

"Nevertheless, she persisted" has become a sort of rallying cry for progressives in the country since.

On Thursday, though, Grubbs said, the protest is not a partisan one, and is not fueled by animosity towards President Donald Trump. 

"We are actually encouraging people not to bring Donald Trump into it," Grubbs said. "It's not an anti-anybody rally. It's a People Before Profits rally. It's to talk about what we're for and not what we're against.

"We need to be talking about why we want environmental justice and the reasons we want health care reasonably priced and accessible for everyone."

Hundreds are expected to attend the rally at 11 a.m. on Thursday. It is sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Women's Network, NKY Unites!, Northern Kentucky Democrats, Northern Kentucky Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, NKY Indivisible, and United We Stand - Cincinnati.

At Hotel Covington, McConnell will speak as part of an event in which both chambers of commerce's federal legislative priorities are explored. There will be a panel discussion featuring Andy Aiello, general manager of the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK), Dr. Neville G. Pinto, president of the University of Cincinnati, and Frank Julian, a vice president at Macy's Inc.

That event is sold out.

Grubbs, who is a member of the Campbell County Democratic Party executive committee, said that protesters will focus on health care and jobs. 

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Mitch McConnell