Greg Bluestein, Atlanta Journal Constitution, August 12, 2017
Democrat Stacey Evans’ speech to a conference of progressive activists descended into chaos on Saturday, as protesters interrupted her repeatedly and she struggled to make herself heard over chants of “support black women.”
Evans, a Smyrna state legislator who is white, expected a tough audience at the Netroots Nation event, where her rival Stacey Abrams was treated like royalty. But she said she at least expected to be able to make it through her remarks.
That didn’t happen.
Almost as soon as she took the stage, a ring of demonstrators – some holding stark signs criticizing her – fanned out in front of Evans. The chanting soon followed. Pleading repeatedly for the room to speak – “let’s talk through it,” she implored – the demonstrators at times drowned her out.
It underscored the intense vitriol already rocking the race for governor.
Abrams, seeking to be the nation’s first black female governor, has embraced a staunchly progressive platform and has pledged to mobilize a legion of minority voters who rarely cast ballots. Evans wants to rebuild a tattered coalition of liberals, working-class voters and suburbanites who have steadily spurned the party for the GOP.
She aimed to deliver a mostly biographical speech about her troubled childhood and her plan to bolster the state’s popular HOPE scholarship, but instead spent much of her time on the podium feuding with protesters. At one point, she tried unsuccessfully to start a dueling chant of “HOPE, HOPE, HOPE.”
She eventually tried to plow through her speech.
One of the demonstrators, Monica Simpson, said she made her stand because she wanted to show she was “true to progressive values.”
Asked why Evans hasn’t met that standard, Simpson couldn’t point to any votes or policy stances. But she said she wants “a candidate that truly speaks to my community.”
“This is our opportunity, especially as black women, to make it known or clear that this is standing on true progressive values,” said Simpson, who lives in Atlanta. “And if you’re not, we’re going to make that clear.”
Abrams said in a statement that she would not “condemn peaceful protest.”