“Nobody is Above the Law”: Local community takes to Main Street against the president
BY City Editor
At approximately 5 p.m. tonight, a group of around one hundred students, faculty and residents gathered to protest recent actions taken by President Donald Trump. Demonstrators initially gathered on the North Green near the crosswalk over East Delaware Avenue, but soon moved to Main Street and stood near Grottos.
The protest was organized by Move On, an activist group that sent out a directive — called a “Constitutional Crisis Warning” — to its members across the nation to organize protests against the President’s actions.
“I’m not in charge of this [demonstration] or anything, I just like to have this bull horn in case of emergencies,” Lisa Jaremka, an assistant professor of social psychology at the university, said. “This is an emergency. I think the Mueller investigation ought to be conducted thoroughly, and I’m worried it’s gonna end prematurely.”
Those present claimed to be specifically protesting yesterday’s ouster of Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and the President’s controversial appointment of a new acting attorney general without Congressional approval.
“There is a sense, I think, that Trump thinks he’s above the law.” Jo Anne Barnes, a Newark resident, said.
After Sessions recused himself from any oversight of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the President frequently criticized him for disloyalty. Mueller is tasked with investigating any alleged efforts made by the Russian government or Trump’s presidential campaign to defraud the United States by influencing the 2016 presidential election.
The decision to remove Sessions also meant the end of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s oversight of the Mueller investigation. The newly appointed Acting Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker, has publicly proclaimed his loyalty to Trump and his disapproval of Mueller.
“The current level of threat to the Mueller investigation warrants this kind of protest, at the least,” Cory Bart, an assistant professor of computer science at the university, said. “Our primary demand is that Whitaker should recuse himself. He’s clearly expressed a lot of bias himself against the Mueller probe.”
Demonstrators participated in a number of chants, including “Hell no, Mueller can’t go,” “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go” and “Show me what democracy looks like!”
Many of the demonstrators expect that the president and his aides will be removed from office on criminal charges. Daniel Siders, 32, an alumnus of the university, held a sign that simply read “18 U.S.C. § 371,” otherwise known as conspiracy to defraud the United States, one of the crimes to which former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty.
“Well, I’m here because I believe democracy may be potentially under threat,” Stuart Binder-Macleod, the associate deputy provost for clinical and translational research in the department of physical therapy, said. “I’m concerned that Trump has removed Jeff Sessions and added someone who, ideologically speaking, has a huge conflict of interest. Clearly, the motivation for Trump is to shut down the Mueller investigation, and I don’t know why he’d do that if it’ll only show his innocence.”
Only a few individuals appeared at the demonstration on Main Street openly in support of the president; however, they refused to issue any kind of comment to the Review. These individuals did not deliver any opposing chants. One occasionally waved a pro-Trump flag and engaged in conversation with anti-Trump demonstrators to discuss their opposing views.
By 6:30, the number of protesters dwindled to around 50, and the event ended by 7 p.m.
“Most of the people here are a lot older than you,” Cheryl Werner, 69, a Newark resident, said. “The thing is, what’s happening now means a whole lot more to you than it does to us because you’ll be dealing with the consequences for far longer.”