AMERICA NEEDS TO WAKE UP
22 September, 2019
By SJA Jafri + Agencies
WASHINGTON/ MELBOURNE: Demonstrators have marched through Washington, DC, to protest against the policies of US President Donald Trump’s administration and demand accountability from politicians.
Saturday’s “We the People March”, billed as an event to remind elected officials that they work for the people, saw protesters marching from Freedom Plaza to the US Capitol.
Taking place on the heels of Friday’s global climate strike, the march was of similar importance to many of its participants, who saw it not only as an opportunity to publicly decry what they see as an assault on US democracy but also to put pressure on the Democratic Party to hold the Trump administration accountable.
Among the issues cited by protesters as reasons for participation were the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, the accusations of collusion with Russia during the 2016 election cycle, and the Republican president’s alleged conflicts of interest.
“The members of Congress and especially [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi need to feel the pressure to hold the Trump regime accountable,” organizer Amy Siskind told Hollywood Life earlier this week.
“They have failed at that … we are rolling the dice if we are just waiting for 2020,” she added, referring to next year’s presidential election in the United States.
The march came at a particularly fraught moment for the Trump administration, which this week prevented the US Congress from accessing a whistle-blower’s reported complaint about events involving the president’s alleged and unspecified promise to a foreigner leader.
While Trump has denied the charge, Intelligence Committee Chairman Representative Adam Schiff said Inspector General Michael Atkinson described the whistle-blower’s account as “credible and urgent”, adding that it should be “transmitted to Congress”.
The reports about the whistle-blower were among the main issues discussed by the march’s participants, many of whom carried signs alluding to allegations that Trump won the 2016 election thanks to Russian interference. Some chanted “lock him up”, playing on a similar chant heard during Trump’s 2016 campaign rallies against his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
A large number of placards held by protesters also bore a simple message: that any Democrat “will do”, instead of Trump.
“I am horrified [with] what is going on in my country right now, and I will not be quiet about it,” Leslie Farrow, a protester from Long Island, said.
“It’s an overall feeling of disgust; it’s the hate, I’m against all of it, I really can’t stomach it,” Farrow added, referencing the administration’s harsh immigration policies.
“I used to be an independent until the last election. I’m really not either [a Democrat] or a (Republican), I just want something progressive. People are not represented and what drew me to this march is to remind our leaders that they work for us.”
Anxiety over the state of US democracy was palpable among the protesters, most of whom were middle-aged or older. And while they expressed rage at the Trump administration, many were also deeply frustrated with the way the Democratic Party goes about in its efforts to challenge the president.
“I wish they would be proceeding with impeachment,” Nancy Viano, a resident of the DC area, said of Democrats in Congress. “I am worried that they are not doing enough.”
For Sheryl, another DC resident who did not provide her last name, the ongoing protests in Hong Kong against the alleged erosion of autonomy by mainland China and South Korea’s so-called “Candlelight Revolution” which drew millions of people into peaceful demonstrations against President Park Geun-hye – who was impeached in 2017 – were examples to follow.
“There should be people as far as we can see, as we see in Hong Kong, as we saw in South Korea a few years ago,” she said, disappointed the march did not have a higher turnout.
“I’m crying because America needs to wake up. We are so complacent and we have no idea what’s at stake.”