The Signal (Santa Clarita Valley): Graveyard of protesters say Knight is cause of death

About 70 protesters with Indivisible Santa Clarita carried tombstone-shaped signs on Monday afternoon to speak out against Representative Steve Knight’s (R-Palmdale) healthcare vote.

The group gathered at the congressman’s Santa Clarita office and marched to the corner of Golden Valley Parkway and Center Point Drive where they played dead.

“Congressman Knight, is your lack of compassion a preexisting condition?” one sign read.

Knight voted along party lines with 217 Republicans in favor of the American Health Care Act on May 4, receiving backlash from people afraid of not getting coverage because of preexisting conditions.

Indivisible Santa Clarita leader Ariel Penn painted her face white with red around her mouth as if she were a corpse, leading chants through a mega phone including “pro-life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if people die,” and “red state, blue state, illness doesn’t discriminate.”

“His vote affects everyone,” Penn said.

The democratic alliance group conducts formal meetings once a month and is already looking for a candidate to support in 2018, Penn said. Members have interviewed candidate Katie Hill and are planning to interview Jess Phoenix on Tuesday, both political newcomers and Democrats.

Chandra Prater, a local who wore an antiquated gas mask at the rally, said she knows lots of people who do not feel their concerns are heard by Steve Knight. Wearing the mask was an effective way to get visibility and set herself apart, she said.

“Protests like these are about numbers,” Prater said. “There are protests every week. I’m here to make noise and get attention.”

Santa Clarita resident Penni Perrault said she is concerned and scared about the future of her health care.

“Steve Knight is a disappointment to us all,” Perrault said. “He is not representing his constituents. I hope the Senate straightens everything out (when they vote on the bill).”

A Republican voice among mostly Democrats, James Fujioka said he wanted a representative who was willing to negotiate, whichever political party they belonged to.

“Someone’s got to tell Steve Knight that he can’t just vote along party lines,” Fujioka said.

Bailey Duemmel estimates she has participated in upwards of 10 protests. The local resident said she hopes the district will replace Knight in 2018.

“We’re organizing someone to run against him,” Duemmel said. “I want someone who cares about constituents, not money.”

Porter Ranch resident Mike Cornner attended the event with his wife and said he sympathized with those expressing their dissatisfaction.

“Things like this make a difference,” Cornner said. “There is a resistance representatives are encountering in their own districts. They didn’t read the bill but voted on it. There’s an insanity to it.”

Marcy Tamayei, a Valencia resident, said she hopes to have a representative that will care about constituents.

“Life is lethal,” Tamayei said. “Everyone has a preexisting condition.”

Alex Soto, who is employed in the Santa Clarita Valley, is a 33-year-old cancer survivor who said she wanted to represent working people who will be affected by the bill.

“I couldn’t just sit back when I could come speak out,” Soto said.

Janice Markham, leader of Indivisible Eagle Rock, played somber music on a violin during the protest to emphasize the “die-in” theme.

“Representatives only want to hear from people in their district, but every single person is affected,” Markham said.