A group of around 30 demonstrators gathered at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven Sunday to demand the removal of Donald Trump as the sitting president.
The local rally was organized by members of Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard, and was part of a national initiative galvanized by moveon.org — a progressive public policy advocacy group and political action committee. It comes in the wake of Wednesday’s violent storming of the Capitol by some of Trump’s supporters who attempted to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden as president. Five people died, offices were ransacked, and for a period of time lawmakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, were moved to secure locations.
At Sunday’s rally, participants held signs illustrating a shared objective, but each participant had personal reasons for wanting Trump removed from office.
Marjorie Mason told The Times at first she was unsure whether attending the demonstration would cause more division. But Mason said she decided to protest because she believes the truth needs to be advocated for, and the illegitimacy of the Trump narrative has steered many good people away from that truth. “In America, we stand up for what we believe in. I honor everyone who does that, because I honor the whole system of our democracy,” Mason said. “I am standing here today because what I believe in is the truth.”
Apart from those who turned to violence and aggression on Capitol Hill, Mason said, there were thousands of others who were demonstrating peacefully, “and they deserve respect and recognition for that.”
But the fear and intimidation engendered by those who chose to riot, Mason said, sets a dangerous example for the youth of our nation. “I am worried about young people, because they are looking at what is going on and might be confused or upset, but young people know what the truth is,” Mason said. She gave a message to the young people who might see violence or division on the news: “If you find yourself confused or frightened, not knowing who or what to believe, you have a compass inside you that will guide you to the truth.”
Karen English said she is concerned that if some kind of restraining order is not placed on Trump, he will continue to run for political office, and will perpetuate that same divisive and hateful rhetoric that led to the events in Washington, D.C. “A restraining order needs to be implemented immediately so that our sitting president cannot continue the abuse, and the [inciting] behavior,” English said.
Sarah Nevin, co-chair of the Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council, said she was at Five Corners to urge the Senate to pass articles of impeachment, and encourage Islanders to make their voices heard surrounding these issues. “I am here today because I can’t be there on the steps of the Senate floor,” Nevin said. “Peaceably, outside on the steps of the Senate. I don’t need to go inside, I don’t need to storm and be destructive or aggressive or violent.”
Nevin said a peaceful demonstration, like the one at Five Corners, elucidates the fact that people can make their voices heard without confrontation or intimidation. “This is meant to, here on our little Island, encourage people who drive by and read about it in the paper to know there are ways you can register your feelings and your opinion peacefully. People can be powerful without being aggressive or destructive.”
Another demonstrator, Nicola Blake, held a sign that read, “No one is above the law.”
She said she was “appalled” by the lawlessness in Washington, and by the fact that some people holding the highest political offices in America are complicit with the recent actions. “If we can’t hold our nation’s highest officials accountable, then who can we hold accountable? I care very deeply that the law is upheld in this country,” Blake said.
She added that from an international perspective, Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has not only irreparably damaged the country’s reputation, but has made other democratic nations question the legitimacy of our political system. “It’s more than just an embarrassment, it’s dangerous. This makes a mockery of democracy,” Blake said.
Eugene Langston Jemison said the recent events on Capitol Hill have “drawn a line in the sand” between Republicans who wish to peacefully exercise their right to protest, and sycophants or blind followers of Trump who seek to obstruct the time-held traditions of American democracy.
“There are good people in the Republican Party — have been, always will be. They show up for what is right, they show up for humanity, I believe. But five people died on Capitol Hill, senselessly,” Jemison said. “I welcome the people who were on the side of Trump, but don’t cosign to the racist, separatist, all-about-myself mentality.”
By being a presence on Five Corners, Jemison said, demonstrators are keeping important political issues at the forefront of people’s thinking. “By standing out here with no violence and no aggression, we just keep people aware. Not like it’s something that’s here today and gone tomorrow. We need to deal with this now; this is not going away,” he said.
Protester Petar Petyoshin said America has always been the “melting pot of the world,” and he wants the rest of the globe to see our country as a place of acceptance and inclusivity. “The future of America is not white, it’s a rainbow of colors. As soon as people realize and accept that, we can move forward,” Petyoshin said.