Groups hold town hall without Rep. Mike Turner

A crowd of more than 150 people gathered at a town hall meeting Saturday night where speakers and visitors criticized U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, for not attending and questioned his record and positions on health care, the environment, President Donald Trump’s immigration orders and other hot-button issues.

Several activist groups, including Dayton Indivisible for All, hosted the event at Westwood PreK-6 School in Dayton after organizers say Turner refused to meet face-to-face with his constituents to answer questions.

But in a statement released Saturday, Turner said he is in Washington, D.C., this weekend, where he is participating in classified briefings “in preparation for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Monday with NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers and FBI Director James Comey concerning ongoing investigations into Russia’s meddling into U.S. elections.”

Turner on Thursday accused one of the organizers for Saturday’s town hall of fraudulently misrepresenting herself and said he would not attend a meeting organized by a group he considers illegitimate.

RELATED: Local group, Turner at odds over ‘fraud’ claim

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According to Turner, the Dayton Indivisible group pretends to be a constituent community organization when really it is an “arm of the Democratic Party” that is part of national protest efforts.

In addition to Dayton Indivisible for All, Saturday’s town hall was hosted by three other local groups: Resistance Ohio, Yellow Springs Political Action Group and the Miami Valley Progressive Caucus. Members of these groups have voiced strong opposition to various parts of Trump’s agenda.

Davin Flateau of Dayton Indivisible for All said Turner has refused to hold any town hall meetings in his district even though he owes his constituents a chance to provide feedback on the GOP and Trump administration’s agenda.

“I don’t know why Mike Turner is not here — that’s a great question,” he said. “He hasn’t scheduled a town hall meeting of his own, and we asked him to schedule a town hall, and we did not hear back from Rep. Turner … so we have to make one for him.”

Visitors on Saturday brought signs to the town hall scrawled with messages critical of Turner and Trump. Some scribbled their ZIP codes on pieces of paper that they taped to their backs to demonstrate that they live in Turner’s district.

A cardboard poster of Turner was carried on stage for speakers to address and question. Videos mocking Turner’s absence were played to loud applause and cheers.

Among the speakers was 26-year-old University of Dayton School of Law student Kandice Abdul Kader, who characterized Trump’s immigration ban as a “contradiction” to the U.S. Constitution and American values.

“I am a Muslim American. I am an Arab American and I am unapologetically Muslim and I am unapologetically Arab American,” she said. “Do I look like a terrorist?”

Christine Baker, the woman Turner accused of using a false name in her dealings with his office, said Turner has tried to intimidate her after she pushed him to meet with his constituents.

“I am here tonight, like all of you, to make sure our voices are heard and our questions are answered,” she said.

Turner accused Baker of falsely purporting to be deceased civil rights icon Ella Baker in possible violation of federal law. In a statement on Friday, Baker said she has gone by Ella for several years and changed her last name to Baker when she got married last year.

RELATED: Hundreds gather in Dayton to protest immigration order

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