About two dozen people rallied in support of Rep. Elijah Cummings outside of his Catonsville district office Friday morning.
The rally, organized by Catonsville Indivisibles, was meant to show support for Cummings in light of tweets and other comments from President Donald Trump that have denigrated the representative and his district.
“The attacks from the White House have been horrific and really unprecedented [and] clearly racist. We need to show that Baltimore County stands united, and we don’t tolerate that kind of language, that kind of attack. We are Baltimore,” said Sheila Ruth, a progressive activist in Baltimore County and onetime candidate for County Council.
In a statement, Cummings said the rally in Catonsville showed that the people of his district are its strength.
“I want to thank all those who came out to show support for me, the entire District, and the ideal that diversity is our promise, not our problem. By working together throughout the District, we can do great things for everyone,” Cummings said.
In addition to the activists and rally-goers, several lawmakers made appearances in solidarity. Though Cummings himself was not in his district office, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who was in Catonsville recording a podcast, briefly stopped by. Van Hollen said that rallies by constituents, even relatively small gatherings, are “absolutely” something that lawmakers notice.
“I think it’s really important that we stand up strongly against the vicious attacks from Donald Trump, on both Elijah Cummings and on Baltimore,” Van Hollen said. “I wanted to stand with the folks who are standing up; it’s great to see that there’s grass-roots public support and expression of support.”
Van Hollen, along with Sen. Ben Cardin, have appeared on TV and the Senate floor to rebuke Trump’s comments.
Also at the rally were State Dels. Eric Ebersole and Jessica Feldmark, both Democrats who represent Catonsville, County Councilman Tom Quirk, an Oella Democrat who represents the county’s 1st District, and Don Mohler, former Baltimore County executive.
“I think it’s very important for groups that agree with their representatives to affirm their opinions and encourage them to continue their work,” Ebersole said, pointing to Cummings’ work on the House Oversight Committee in investigating the Trump administration and in working to reunite migrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ebersole said he also thought it was important for constituents to see their elected officials at rallies and protests so that the constituents know the elected officials hear them.
“They need to know they have our support when they’re there,” he said.
Trump attacked Baltimore and Elijah Cummings’ entire district, which includes parts of Baltimore and Howard counties, in late July.
Susan Radke, another organizer with Catonsville Indivisibles, said the group rallied outside Cummings’ office for about two hours, encouraging drivers to honk in support. The group signed a card and individuals wrote postcards of support and thanks to Cummings, which they gave to one of his district staffers, Radke said.
“We support Representative Cummings and want him to know that regardless of what the president says about him, or District 7, we know it’s not true, and we are behind him 100 percent,” Radke said.
The mood was not wholly celebratory. Ruth, the progressive Catonsville activist, said she noticed the presence of a Baltimore County Police Department vehicle, ostensibly there to “keep an eye on things.”
“It’s crazy that we live in these times where we have to have someone watching over us, to have someone watching over us to make sure we’re safe,” she said.
Ruth said she wasn’t dissuaded from going to the rally because of recent mass shootings and political polarization, but that it did cross her mind.
“We’re in this time now where you can be just shopping in Walmart and be gunned down in a mass shooting, even more so with this extreme hate that’s being riled up that we were out there protesting,” she said.