Ashton Marra Published

Protesters Outnumber Supporters at Clinton Williamson Event


While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton preached a message of friendship and promised progress for southern West Virginia inside a campaign event in downtown Williamson Monday, dozens of protestors filled the streets outside chanting messages that made it clear Clinton was not welcome in their community.

“Hillary is a crook!” one man chanted just feet from the event’s entrance. Others yelled loudly, “Remember Benghazi!”

Not everyone who stood outside the rally was against the Clinton visit, though. Timothy Hatcher is a lifelong Williamson resident who held his “Hillary for President”sign proudly.

“People are taking her the wrong way. She has done nothing but great things,” he said. “A lot of people think you can change things in four years — it’s impossible. It takes time for one person to [change] the whole nation.”


Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Timothy Hatcher of Williamson proudly displays his Clinton sign outside the Monday event.

“It’s about clean coal,” Hatcher said. “I’m sure she will help the coal miners here in West Virginia.”

Clinton shared that same message with the small group that participated in her roundtable at the Williamson Health and Wellness Center, calling herself a friend of the state.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I’ll wave a magic wand and make something happen, but I will work my heart out for you. I will do everything I possibly can to support what is the character of West Virginia, the people of this state,” Clinton said. 

Clinton repeatedly referred to a plan she released last summer that would invest $30 billion in coal communities for education, among other things. Bo Copley is a member of the panel who was recently laid off from his job as a maintenance planner at an Arch Coal subsidiary. He told Clinton her recent comments about the coal industry were at conflict with her new message of friendship.

“I just want to know how you can say you’re going to put a lot of coal miners out of jobs and then come in here and tell us how you’re going to be our friend,” Copley told Clinton, “because those people out there don’t see you as a friend.”

Clinton made the comment at a town hall in Ohio earlier this year, but defended herself Monday, saying the comments were taken out of context and she had repeatedly apologized for them.


Credit Paul Sancya / AP Photo
AP Photo
Protesters outside Monday’s Hillary Clinton event in Williamson.

  Still, those misstatements, as she referred to them, continued to resonate with protestors outside like Emma Runyon. She’s a Williamson native who volunteered on the 2008 Clinton campaign and has since switched her party registration to Republican.

Runyon stood outside the Williamson Wellness Center wearing a Donald Trump hat and T-shirt, waving a Trump sign.

“This very time I was phone banking for Hillary Clinton in 2008,” Runyon said. “She changed every position from 2008 to now. She slowly went so far away from working people.”

Runyon added Clinton also promotes the “War on Coal,” a sentiment that helped Republicans take over the state Legislature during the 2014 election.

Clinton will make an additional stop in West Virginia this week, holding a roundtable discussion in Charleston on Tuesday focused on substance abuse.  

The event is the same day that two states, Indiana and Tennessee, head to the polls to cast ballots in their primary elections.

West Virginia’s primary is May 10.

Editor’s Note: For more on election coverage leading up to West Virginia’s May 10 primary, visit