There have been many demonstrations against the actions of President Donald Trump’s administration, but what made Ashland’s Wednesday afternoon protest different is that is was largely the work of one citizen, Joyce Woods, who says, “It’s about facing down corruption, his lack of support for our basic institutions and his support of Vladimir Putin.”
Some 70 people lined the sidewalk on the Main Street side of the Plaza starting at 6 p.m., prompting numerous honks from supportive passing vehicles as they shouted enthusiastically and waved signs reading, for example, “Truth Matters,” “Impeach Putin’s Puppet,” “Country Before Party” and “Treasonous Trump.” With shouts and hand signs, motorists seemed to agree.
Woods said, “Congress has to act. They have a bill for sanctions on Russia for undermining our 2016 election. I demand Congress censure Trump for attacking our institutions of law, free press and undermining departments that keep us healthy, safe and free.
“I’m just a person but I think we all recognize that most Americans have certain values — and they’re being violated.”
Local demonstrations are usually organized by organizations such as ORD2 Indivisible (from Oregon Congressional District 2, in which Ashland is located). Many ORD2 members were present Wednesday after notices went up on Facebook and other social media on Tuesday afternoon.
The event was offered as an opportunity to “stand up for democracy, stand by (the) special counsel’s investigation and conclusions and stand against (Russian President) Putin’s attack on USA and (U.S. President) Trump complicity,” according to Woods’ announcement.
Using her megaphone at the demonstration, longtime Indivisible activist Teresa Safay shouted out “86-45,” which she explained meant “kick out the 45th president,” from the term used at bars — to 86 — for removing someone from the premises.
Mary Renault said the turnout was not just because of the recent Helsinki summit at which Trump said he was more inclined to believe Russian President Putin that U.S. intelligence agencies, but also in response to other polices, such as breaking up and jailing immigrating families and taking no action on improving U.S. cyber-security before the 2018 election, which is just three months off.
“I want Congress to stand up and do its job, which includes oversight of the President,” Renault said. “If they’re upset, they need to grow a spine and start holding hearings. If they don’t protect our elections, it will be up to the people.”
Jennifer McKenzie, a retired Army officer in the medical corps, carried a sign reading “Treason-Impeach” and noted, “This guy is not my commander-in-chief. We need our legislative branch to step up and do something about this craziness. Today, it’s important we all unite, both parties, the whole country and just say ‘no.’ Silence is complicity. As an Army officer, I can’t believe we are here today. In the Army, this man would never be allowed to be a company commander and here he is leading the nation.”
Melissa Mitchell, an office manager, said, “I’m so in shock and saddened by Helsinki. It’s surreal, beyond belief. I don’t know why he doesn’t defend our country. That’s his main job. This is a watershed moment for our country. It is time for American patriots to stand up for our country.”
Robert Price said, “The message is much more clear now that Trump is an apprentice to Putin, with much closer ties than we thought … He is not a con man because he is not smart enough. I grew up in Umatilla with a dad who was a genuine con man, so I know about cons and shills. Trump is the guy left holding the bag. If you are a con, you need to know how to do it, but he’s abrasive and comes off as the fool.”
Price’s wife, Linda, added, “It’s time to think about getting some adult control over Donald Trump and taking back democracy.”
Laura Giusta said, “He threw America under the bus. I’m done with him, all of them, Pence too. They need to go to jail. I’m bummed. They all should have been vetted. All the talk shows and the press are complicit. They thought he was a joke and gave him lots of exposure. Now, I’m just waiting for (Special Counsel Robert) Mueller to come through. It will take time. There’s so much we have to deal with the get back to normal.”
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.