Photo Credit: Tess Velo
In the wake of the midterm elections of November 6th and the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by request of President Trump, and the subsequent appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General, protests around the nation sprang up, including one on Thursday, the 8th, organized by the activist group No One Is Above The Law. Focusing specifically on the risk posed by Whitaker’s public statements against the investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into connections between Trump’s family and Russian interference with the presidential election of 2016, speeches given at the beginning highlighted the concern for the checks and balances of our democracy, the need for accountability at the highest levels of government, and persistent outrage at a foreign dictatorship’s meddling. Many protest signs referenced Putin or collusion with Russia; others made mention of rule of law and protecting democracy from tyranny. One man with a chicken head mask carried a sign that said “NO FOX IN THE HEN-HOUSE” on one side and “PROTECT MUELLER INVESTIGATION” on the other.
To either side traffic waited, backed up for blocks, stymied by the mass of humanity united in purpose.
After speeches by Washington state governor Jay Inslee, U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and local organizers, the crowd of thousands moved from Cal Anderson park to 11th Ave and then down Pine toward downtown and the Federal Building on 2nd. Along the way, police on bicycles coasted silently along the sidelines, while other officers blocked car traffic at intersections with motorcycles and SUVs. Representing an entire spectrum, from spry elderly women in pink knit hats and cozy scarves, to the children bouncing next to their parents and shrieking protest slogans (“SHOW ME WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE; THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE”), the crowd was comprised of regular people, dressed for the chill early November darkness, some with signs but most without, protest veterans and protest virgins alike bumping shoulders, many chatting casually with their friends as they walked. One dapper gentleman named Jeff, with a succinct sign that read simply “RULE OF LAW”, mentioned that this was his second protest; his first being the recent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
The march led down the long steep drop of Pine Street into downtown, and at points, one could look either forward and down, or up and back, to catch a glimpse of the volume of people involved; multiple blocks in both directions were thick with bobbing heads and signs. On the sidewalks, people gathered to watch, some taking photo and video. A news helicopter rumbled overhead, bass thumps providing a beat to underscore the rhythm of thousands of footsteps. To either side traffic waited, backed up for blocks, stymied by the mass of humanity united in purpose. Occasionally, a clearly more experienced activist would rouse up a crowd chant; “What do we do when the fascists attack? Stand up, fight back!”, “Whose streets? Our streets!”, “No Trump; no KKK, no fascist USA!”, and “Let Bob [Robert Mueller] do his job!” all made repeated comebacks throughout the night.
Once the crowd settled at the Jefferson Federal Building on 2nd Ave in downtown Seattle, a local musician and political activist sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” followed by some original songs, followed by more speeches by other local activists including a local high school Biology teacher and an Afghanistan war veteran, and concluded with an appearance from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. The entire protest remained peaceful and calm, alternating between listening and occasional chanting, and dispersed around 7:30 pm, allowing police to reopen 2nd Ave to car traffic.