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Rhode Island holds a vigil for democracy in these days of Trump



“I’m a pretty ordinary person,” said Judi Zimmer, the organizer of the event. “But since November 8, 2016 I’ve been frightened and I’ve been angry and I’m not the only one… Every day, when we think things can’t get any worse, they do. Little by little we’re seeing every principle of our country deliberately eroded.”

Zimmer was speaking at the Vigil for Democracy, where a group of around 30 people gathered in the wake of President Donald Trump‘s remarks, made “over the past several days that have indicated he cares more about appeasing Mr Putin than he does about the very foundations of our country.” Trump maintains that he misspoke at that meeting Putin, but it wasn’t just that incident that disturbed the people gathered outside the Rhode Island State House Wednesday night. Those assembled had deeper concerns about the President.

“Totalitarianism is like that. It creeps up on you inch by inch,” continued Zimmer. “But for those of us here tonight it’s noticeable, it matters, and it must end.”

“We need to stand up for our democracy,” said Shannon Donahue, a Democratic candidate for Rhode Island State Senate in District 7, North Providence. “We cannot allow our country to become a totalitarian state. Private meetings, with Vladimir Putin, in my opinion, is treason.”

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“Misogyny is not a political opinion, it’s sin,” said Brendan Curran, associate pastor at Barrington Congregational Church. “Racism is not a political opinion. Racism is sin, because all of us are made in the divine image. Homophobia is not a political opinion. Hate is not a political opinion. Destroying the earth, crushing the public sector, and creating all these measures that privatize everything at the expense of the poor and the common person – None of that is a political opinion. All of that is actually sin.”

“Many people sit in front odd their televisions and hear this Trump TV, they mindlessly take it in as truth” said Dr Patricia Ricci, from Rhode Island Resisters, a group opposing the Trump supporting political content being inserted as news by Sinclair Media Group, which owns the local television station WJAR/Channel 10. “It is extremely important that we identify what is truth and what is propaganda.”

“It’s going to take more than going to the polls. We’ve got to get out there and talk to our neighbors.”

In “2020, run for something! Be the change!” said Zimmer, wrapping up. She’s running for her local House District Committee seat to help fix the Rhode Island Democratic Party‘s broken endorsement process. Zimmer wants to, “make sure that cronyism, and families and secret agendas are not part of who people vote for as Representative.”

The event ended with singing and conversation.

Judy Zimmer

Jennifer Rourke, Democratic candidate for Rhode Island State Senate District 29 in Warwick


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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.