Community members protest Jeff Sessions' resignation
As the sun set on Nov. 8, two American flags could be seen above a crowd gathered at the corner of Main Street and East Wheelock Street for a protest called “Nobody Is Above the Law — Mueller Protection Rapid Response.” Over 100 protestors assembled at 5 p.m. to oppose the forced resignation of U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions and the subsequent appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. Whitaker is expected to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The attendees held signs reading “Innocence need not fear,” “No one is above the law” and “Protect the Mueller investigation.” They shouted “Hands off Mueller,” “Whitaker must recuse” and “The press is not the enemy,” among other chants. The last was in response to President Trump’s recent attack on CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, according to New Hampshire state representative Mary Jane Mulligan.
Mulligan said she attended the protest to show Trump that gatherings like Thursday’s are “only a tiny bit” of what he will face if he interferes with Mueller’s investigation.
The protest was one of hundreds organized by moveon.org and other progressive organizations to occur across the country on Thursday night. The events were planned months ago, according to Hanover Democratic Party member Joe Montibello, and were triggered by Sessions’ firing and Whitaker’s appointment on Wednesday. Montibello said he helped organize the Hanover protest.
On Thursday morning, the New Hampshire Upper Valley Democrats Facebook page urged community members to join the protest.
“Donald Trump just crossed a red line, violating the independence of the investigation pursuing criminal charges in the Trump-Russia scandal and cover-up,” the Facebook page wrote. “Trump putting himself above the law is a threat to our democracy, and we’ve got to get Congress to stop him. We’re mobilizing immediately to demand accountability, because Trump is not above the law.”
According to Montibello, the entire event came together very quickly.
“We literally heard from the national organization last night,” he said. “It basically all came together today. The whole [moveon.org] organization has been watching for these kinds of red lines. Trump is trying to basically put himself above the law by not allowing the investigation to go forward. It’s not normal for presidents to do that.”
Sisters Mary Jane Peabody, Linda Schmidt and Brenda Tirrell, who have named themselves the “perSISTERS,” traveled from different places in the Upper Valley to attend the protest, citing what they described as “a feeling that the nation is in crisis.”
“Trump’s whole administration lying and covering up — it’s corrupt,” Schmidt said. “It’s completely corrupt.”
Tirrell added that, in her opinion, the entire Republican Party is complicit.
While not many students attended the protest, astronomy Ph.D. students Christina Gilligan and Christopher Carroll attended to voice their concerns.
“[I feel that] this is one of the biggest national events of my lifetime, so I definitely wanted to be out here to just show my displeasure with what’s happening,” Gilligan said.