About 30 drivers honked their horns while driving on a route from Nassau to Queens on Feb. 25. But they weren’t doing so as a response to errors made by erratic drivers. Instead, the angry motorists from the North Shore’s 3rd District had gathered to continue their protest to U.S. Rep. George Santos. They have never given up hope that they will convince Congress to expel him.
The morning’s caravan was led by MoveOn.org, Courage for America, Concerned Citizens of NY-03, other local activists and their dogs, who gathered for “Drive Out Santos,” a constituent caravan.
The protest was unintentionally organized on the backdrop of the “National Day of Hate,” where white supremacist groups attempted to nationally organize antisemitic activities. Nassau police issued extra units to patrol across the county.
While campaigning, Santos claimed that he had Jewish heritage, but retracted his claim weeks later. His confession prompted a backlash from Jewish groups, and Nassau County Democrats and Republicans. Currently, Santos’ campaign finance filings are under investigation as is a charity he claims to have set up to help distressed animals.
Furious protestors have said someone with a character like Santos’ shouldn’t be representing anyone in Congress.
“At a time when the antisemitism is growing and becoming much more of a significant problem across the country, having someone lie about being Jewish and the Holocaust is incredibly offensive,” Charlie Robbins, a MoveOn member and NY-3 constituent, said.
Santos also fabricated that he’d earned a college degree and had worked directly with Goldman Sachs.
“Every day Congress doesn’t do something about this is an insult to our country,” Casey Sabella, a Glen Cove resident and community organizer with Courage for America, said.
The caravan’s route included five stops that were physical representations of Santos’s scams and scandals. The first stop was Michael J Tully Dog Park, which neighbors the Garden City Animal Hospital. It highlighted Santos’ fraudulent animal charity. The next was Citibank in New Hyde Park, which highlighted Santos’ fabricated work history and the third stop, the Lake Success Jewish Center, was representative of his false claims of Jewish heritage. The fourth stop, Il Bacco Italian Restaurant, where he spent $26,000, is a key player in the investigation being led by the FBI into Santos’ campaign finances. The final stop, where dozens of protests were previously held, was the congressman’s district office in Douglaston, Queens.
“There is no question in my mind that Mr. Santos is not fit to represent the people of Congressional District 3,” Robbins said. “We have no idea what he stands for except himself and his power and greed.”
One of the motorists protesting was Dulce Urena, a Glen Head resident and parent to two college-aged students. Urena is a physician at a night clinic for union laborers, a job she feels pays homage to both her immigrant parents who were also laborer’s.
“I’ve been thinking about this as the daughter of Dominican immigrants who left their country for a better life,” she said. “For me, it’s about preserving our democracy.”
Urena said she wished she could do more than protest.
“In the few weeks they’ve been in recess in Congress he has not reached out to his constituents to see what it is that we need in the 3rd District, and we need so much to be done,” Urena said.
That Santos admitted to fabrications in an extended interview with Piers Morgan, a British broadcaster on TalkTV, didn’t surprise Urena. Although she said Santos’ admission to lying was a step in the right direction, it’s not good enough for her. She’d rather see him resign, since, she said, people voted for someone that doesn’t exist.
“People like that don’t really understand the depth of what they did because he doesn’t see it as anything serious,” Urena said.