With wooden outhouses in their pickup trucks, bags o manure in their hands and talk of secession on their lips, a band of angry Eastern Shore residents descended upon the State House today, demanding that Gov. William Donald Schaefer be held accountable for likening their region to an outdoor toilet.
"He's just a madman to say that about the Eastern Shore," said Larry Frampton of Easton, one of several dozen Shore residents who rode in a convoy of trucks and cars to Annapolis from as far away as Wicomico County to demonstrate their ire with the governor.
"I expect an apology from him," Frampton continued as he stood in the cold wind. "I feel thataway."
Flanked by television crews and uniformed State Police, the protesters held banners urging the Eastern Shore to secede from the rest of the state and signs calling for the impeachment of the governor.
Lollo Pennewell, a protest organizer from Snow Hill, said she had hoped to hand deliver a bagful of manure to the governor. But when she attempted to walk to the rear steps of the State House, police politely told her to stay on the other side of the
She wouldn't have been successful anyway. The governor and a busload of aides left Annapolis earlier to go to the Anne Arundel County police academy for a scheduled demonstration of several assault-type weapons he is seeking to ban this year.
Talking with reporters at the weapons demonstration in Davidsonville, Schaefer said it was "so utterly amazing that the importance of this will not be as prominent as some outhouses," a reference to the Shore protest.
Today's protest was in reaction to a highly publicized comment made recently by the governor as he passed a group of Eastern Shore legislators during a formal State House ceremony.
"How's that s---house of an Eastern Shore?" Schaefer asked a Lower Shore delegate in passing. Schaefer has steadfastly refused to apologize for the remark, saying it was merely a joke similar to ones Shore lawmakers have made about Baltimore.
Upset over losing seven of the nine Eastern Shore counties in the November election, the governor has hardly let a week go by without making some reference to the region and its residents.
On hand for today's protest was Richard F. Colburn, a former Eastern Shore delegate to the General Assembly. Colburn, who works in a food market, said customers have been talking about little else than Schaefer's derogatory comment about the Shore.