The group of pro-choice protesters at Governor Brian Kemp’s latest campaign stop in downtown Alpharetta Tuesday was small. Very small. There were four women in all and not enough signs to go around to each of them.
Their signs read, ‘Regulate guns not women’ and ‘Stacey Abrams Governor’ and were outnumbered by red and black Kemp campaign signs. This was a Kemp campaign rally after all and a large percentage of the crowd wore ‘Kemp’ stickers on their shirts and jackets, and walked around with those Kemp campaign signs. The protestors were behind enemy lines and they knew it. The pro-Kemp crowd knew it too and would occasionally walk over to their table to let them know.
Sitting feet from the stage where Kemp and others would soon appear, Marla Cureton told The Atlanta Voice she was there because women’s reproductive rights were on the line. A Roswell resident, Cureton said that she was in Alpharetta “because so much has been written about the suburban wave and Alpharetta is a good example of that. I want people to know we have a vibrant, progressive, liberal activist community up here.”
Cureton had lived in Alpharetta before moving to Roswell and her mother still lives in Alpharetta.
On the stage, which was set up on a green space in the center of downtown for the afternoon campaign rally, Alpharetta Mayor Jim Gilvin got things started by telling the crowd he was happy to see them and honored to have Kemp and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) in town. Gilvin credited Kemp for leading the state through the pandemic. “As a mayor of a city of 65,000 people as I watched Governor Kemp get our state through Covid-19 I was in awe,” he said.
On Youngkin making an appearance in support of Kemp, Gilvin told The Atlanta Voice, “If Kemp invited him we’re going to welcome him.” Youngkin was welcomed with open arms from the crowd which cheered him on as he spoke of Virginia being “locked up” during the early days of the pandemic. He spoke of Georgia not having to endure the amount of closed businesses and schools because “You had Brian Kemp.”
“Virginia stood up, they said enough. The wakeup call came and Virginians answered it and we made a big change,” said Youngkin of the his election to governor last year after defeating former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe in 2021. “Now it’s your turn to make a statement and say we’re going to give Brian Kemp four more years.”
Carol Graf, an Alpharetta resident and one of the four protesters, said she didn’t want Kemp to be in office for four more years. “My biggest issues are I don’t want him to regulate my body and I want some gun control,” she said. “
Asked if she was listening to some of the reasons Youngkin listed as reasons for voting for Kemp, Graf said, “No, I wasn’t listening.”
A local nurse, not protesting but in full support of the protesters and their signs told me, “I just don’t like anything about him,” said Eva Norton. “I definitely don’t want Kemp to tell women what to do with their bodies.”
The most recent poll data (Sept. 23) from FiveThirtyEight has Kemp ahead of Abrams by 5.3%. Asked how she thinks the Abrams camp cam make up ground with just over 40 days before Election Day Norton said, “They have to get with the program, knock on more doors, hold more rallies.”
The Georgia 6-week abortion ban, has voters like Jeanna Trugnam, another of the quartet of protesters, concerned. Trugnam has four adopted children, three of whom are girls. She stood and sat throughout the rally, all the time holding her signs. On at least three occasions people in the crowd care over to heckle her and the others. One of those hecklers was a woman. “I have never seen a more selfish group of people,” she said. “It’s all about them. To be honest it’s people thinking the world has to be what they want it to be and that’s wrong.”
Cureton, who wore a Stacey Abrams Governor t-shirt that matched one of her signs, is a part of a northern suburban grassroots group, No Safe Seats. She said this midterm election is as important as any other before it on many levels.
“Women reproductive rights are on the line,” she said.