The Tennessee Star’s Laura Baigert sat down with State Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) for this exclusive interview on Capitol Hill Wednesday about the recent protest that disrupted a press conference he had scheduled with State Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet).
Here’s the transcript:
Baigert: We’re here with Rep. Pody from district 46, which is Wilson, DeKalb, and Cannon Counties.
Rep. Pody, last week you were the subject of a protest, the beginning of it, that’s been going on the last week. Can you give us your take on what you’ve been seeing?
State Rep. Pody: Absolutely. And it won’t even be the beginning of the protest, because I think there’s been a lot of protest going on.
However, this has been maybe a focal point, with a lot of things happening with protesters.
Now, they started protesting actually as soon as we got into session. So the very first day we were here they were protesting.
And a couple times when we would go in to session they were protesting.
It was ironic because sometimes when we got to the session, we got to actually sitting down at the desk and [State Rep.] Judd Matheny was sitting right with me and I asked him “What are they protesting about?” and he said “I don’t know.”
So they were out there chanting and yelling and screaming.
Well, we didn’t even know why they were there.
Now last week was a little bit different, because Senator Beavers and I, we actually wanted to have a discussion about two of the bills that we were running.
One of them is just a bathroom bill.
We believe that males should use the male restroom and girls should use the female rest room.
It’s pretty simple and common sense.
We wanted to talk about it.
We gave everybody an opportunity. We called a press conference. We said were going to be here at this time.
Let’s talk. Let’s answer questions.
When we got there, there was no interest in answering questions.
They had an interest in just yelling for the cameras.
And that’s exactly how we felt it was, so we started talking, and as soon as they were going to start yelling, we’re not going to be in a yelling contest.
We thought if they didn’t want to have a conversation and ask questions, we don’t need to do this and be here.
At that point we actually left. It wasn’t enough though that we left.
They weren’t satisfied.
They followed us. They actually tried to surround me, and such, continuing to yell, and their language wasn’t the most professional.
I didn’t feel I had the option that I could even walk away.
So as they were talking it is like there’s no conversation you want to have, you just want to sit here and yell.
I was able to get away and go to the elevators.
They crammed into the elevator with me.
I came into my office. I said ‘This is my office.’
And they wouldn’t leave there either.
They felt they had the right to come in and barge in.
That’s not right. That is not right
My assistant, she has nothing to do with the bills that I run, and they kind of messed up her desk, they broke some things in her office and such.
And so I walked to our leadership and shared with them, you know, that we’ve got serious complaints.
Some of the people, I don’t feel any issue with my personal safety, but some of the state workers here do.
And that’s not right, nobody should have to work where they kind of fear where they work.
And I’m hoping that our leadership will do something about this quickly.
I don’t want to stop somebody from protesting. They have that right, but they need to do it within the bounds of our laws.