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Rally to support the impeachment of Trump draws hundreds to Rhode Island State House



Make no mistake, it is a sad day when we as a country need to come together to exercise the practice of impeaching a President,” said rally organizer Lauren Pothier. “However, we as a country have seen overwhelming evidence that the president of the United States has broken the law. The President used military aid as leverage to help alter the 2020 election in his favor and that should disgust everybody…

Over 200 people rallied in the freezing rain at the Rhode Island State House Tuesday evening to call for and celebrate the imminent impeachment of President Donald Trump. Today, the United States House of Representatives will be voting on the articles of impeachment, and both of Rhode Island’s representatives, David Cicilline and James Langevin, have publicly stated that they will vote to impeach.

The local event was held in coordination with hundreds of “Nobody Is Above the Law” rallies nationwide. This mobilization, wrote organizer Lauren Pothier, “is part of a massive, grassroots effort to ensure Congress holds Donald Trump accountable for using military aid to pressure Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 elections. Protestors will demand that the House of Representatives fulfills its constitutional duty by impeaching Donald Trump and that the Senate remove him from office for attempting to rig the 2020 elections. Congress must show that no one – including the criminal in the White House – is above the law.”

As UpriseRI approached the State House, people were chanting, with the help of members of the Extraordinary Rendition Band, “45 has got to go!”

Saying that attendance had far exceeded her expectations given the weather, organizer Lauren Pothier said, “Defending democracy doesn’t wait for anyone, including good weather.

“We are here tonight for one thing,” continued Pothier. “To loudly show our support for the impeachment of the President of the United States… Every day I am blown away by the power that we have when we come together. Make no mistake, it is a sad day when we as a country need to come together to exercise the practice of impeaching a President. However, we as a country have seen overwhelming evidence that the president of the United States has broken the law. The President used military aid as leverage to help alter the 2020 election in his favor and that should disgust everybody…”

Common Cause is a nonpartisan organization that’s been around for almost 50 years here in Rhode Island and nationally,” said Common Cause Rhode Island executive director John Marion. “We were named in Nixon’s enemy list in 1974, and yet we never called for Nixon’s impeachment. This is the first time in the history of our organization that we’ve called for the impeachment of a president. We take it very seriously.”

“I am here tonight because we need to send a strong message that Donald J Trump must be booted out of office because he is unfit for the Presidency,” said State Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence). “Donald Trump is a racist. He’s a bigot. He’s a misogynist and he’s a horrible, horrible person.

“Donald Trump finds it a pleasure to put kids in cages,” continued Ranglin-Vassell. “He is kicking people off their food stamps. Donald J Trump does not share our values.”

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“We’ve known that this President has placed himself before anything like the common good for a long time,” said Georgia Hollister Isman, the State Director of the Rhode Island Working Families Party. “Yet we watched, like everybody else, with horror at exactly how blatant that has been, how clearly he has put his own interests before the interests of the whole country, so it is so important that our congress vote tomorrow and impeach him…”

“I am old enough to have experienced three impeachments now, sadly for our Republic,” said State Representative June Speakman (Democrat, District 68, Bristol, Warren). “When I talk to my students, we talk about the importance of constitutions and believing in them and supporting them. We talk about the importance of checks and balances and checks on executive power. In this instance we are seeing all of this undermined. I know we will all work very hard to make sure that the principles that make our democracy safe stand. This president’s got to go. Let’s all work for that.”

“While it is cold out here tonight, I am warmed up by all of you showing up and making sure our voices are being heard,” said State Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence). “You know this President, from the very day he started running for office and through his entire presidency, has tried to divide us, but the beauty of Rhode Islanders is that our strength is our unity. We have stayed together and made sure our voices are being heard. It is women like Lauren [Pothier] who just stood up and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to throw this thing tonight and see who shows up’ and all of you showed up. And that makes a difference.

“The next step is to absolutely make sure that you vote. Get everywhere else you know to vote and make sure that we are getting our word out across this nation that we are not going to stand for another four years of being terrorized by our current president.”

“I just want to start by taking a moment to recognize the role that bad ass women of color have played in pushing our congressional leaders to step up,” said former State Representative Aaron Regunberg, an organizer with Never Again Action. “The courage and commitment of women like Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar – It’s a big part of why we are able to rally here today on the eve of real action towards impeachment, because as these women recognized from the beginning, Donald Trump is not only the worst president we have ever had.

“He is also the most impeachable president in American history,” continued Regunberg. “We are here tonight to rally for the articles of impeachment that Congress is introducing against Trump for subverting foreign policy to interfere with our elections, and that is an act of corruption that poses a lethally serious threat to our Republic. I would urge all of us as we organize around this specific crime of Trump’s, to keep in mind the many other crimes that Trump has committed.

“Here’s what Trump could be impeached for: For the deeply corrupt enrichment of himself and his family as expressly prohibited in our constitution’s emoluments clause, for his seizure of the authority that Congress and only Congress has over the power of the purse when he took $3.7 billion from the defense department to add his racist wall to his concentration camps. For his abuse of the public trust, when he incites his supporters to violence, when he condones white supremacy, when he brags about his status as a serial sexual predator – if that’s not an abuse of the public trust, then I don’t know what is – for his obstruction of justice, as detailed in the Mueller report and elsewhere, for his defiant refusal to faithfully execute the laws of this nation, which he swore a constitutional oath to do before turning around and shredding the EPA and OSHA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the program that protect consumers, that shield working people that save American lives.

“And if nothing else, for his absolute abdication of his duty as commander in chief to protect the American people from the greatest threat to our safety and health and wellbeing we have ever faced: The climate crisis, a crisis that Donald Trump is doing whatever he can to escalate by aiding and abetting corporate polluters and attacking every attempt by the American people to take climate action.

“Friends, impeachment is a tool that our constitution provides to safeguard our democracy against tyrants. Donald Trump has proven himself to be a tyrant 10 times over and he needs to be impeached!”

The crowd chants “Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Donald Trump has got to go!”

“I had an existential crisis after Donald Trump won the election in 2016,” said Woonsocket City Councilperson Alex Kithes, who is also a member of the Sunrise Movement. “I had understood until that point that something was fundamentally wrong with our political system, but watching as our culture changed almost overnight, and as fascism and science denial became normalized, it was the first time in my 24 years of life that I realized just how fragile our democracy was. So I did what a lot of us here did, I became an activist, in my case, a climate justice activist, and I ran for office and won.

“Trump’s election, the next step in the march towards global authoritarian fascism and towards a future of unfettered climate change – now with almost no chance of being addressed by quick government action – mobilized me like it did for so many people – into actually fighting for the future of humanity, into becoming an ally for the marginalized communities who had been fighting forever against the same cultural tides that made Trump a possibility.

“This presidency is the logical conclusion of decades of Reaganism. Decades of deregulation, of institutional racism, of systemic oppression of the working class and marginalized communities, those who make up the vast majority of the people in my city who I was elected to protect and serve.

“Trump represents some of the worst qualities of 21st century society. Not only does he not care about the climate crisis and the livability of the future, does not care about good government and process, about equity for people of color, for women, for the LGBTQ community, for immigrants and religious minorities and those with disabilities, but every day he and his administration and those congressional seats that they control show active animosity for all of those groups and for those causes and and a complete disregard for what it will take to secure a livable future in the face of the global climate crisis.

“They continue to churn up the type of hatred that has contributed to a 21st century rise in white supremacy. Something that has reared it’s ugly head even right here in Rhode Island…”

“I, like many of you, do not want to say his name. So early on I decided to call him the cancer in the White House,” said Kendra Anderson, candidate for State Senate District 31 in Warwick. “The cancer, even among Republicans, did not spread at the very start. But the cancer has spread to so many parts of our society and created so much hate and the only way to stop cancer is to cut it out.

“So yes, we need to follow the constitution and yes, we need to impeach this extremely corrupt president. Many people up here have talked about voting. It’s so important that every one of us get out there, get the swing States if you can. Register voters, get them out to vote on day of election. We’ve got to get this person out of office if the impeachment doesn’t.”

Lauren Pothier wrapped it up with some final words and chants:

Lauren pothier
John Marion
Marcia Ranglin-Vassell
Gayle Goldin
Aaron Regunberg
Alex Kithes

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.