Thousands march across US seeking Trump impeachment

03 Jul 2017


Several thousand protesters marched through downtown Los Angeles on and across the US on Sunday, waving signs and chanting, ''Down, down, down with Trump - up, up, up with the people'' as they urged Congress to impeach the president.

The peaceful demonstration was one of dozens of events held across the country Sunday, two days before Independence Day, aimed at voicing displeasure with Trump and his White House.

In Los Angeles, where the anti-Trump gathering was perhaps the largest, the protestors carried a black coffin draped in red, white and blue flowers, topped with a hand-written sign: "The Presidency 1789-2017."

Similar events in favour of impeaching Trump were held in numerous cities, including Chicago, New York and Washington, DC.

In Austin, Texas, they marched from the state Capitol to City Hall, tussling with counter-protesters along the way, and in downtown San Francisco, a chant made their goal plain: "What do we want? Impeachment! When do we want it? Now!"

As in many other cities, protesters were greeted by supporters of the president in Austin.

"There's no reason at this point to impeach the president. He's committed no crimes. There's no reason," Jake Lloyd, who backs the president, told an NBC-backed station. "I don't think they understand what impeachment is."

In New York City, protesters gathered outside a Trump hotel, where the now-familiar scene of duelling protests erupted in a shouting match, according to an Associated Press reporter.

In Philadelphia, there wasn't a shouting match but, instead, a fight: two anti-Trump protesters were arrested after a supporter of the president was attacked outside a downtown bar, NBC Philadelphia reported. A police officer was injured, the station reported, and a third person was issued a citation. The charges weren't immediately clear.

It wasn't just the big cities that drew crowds, either.

From Davenport, Iowa, protesters marched across the Centennial Bridge to Schweibert Park in Rock Island, Illinois.

The impeachment march in Los Angeles ended at Fletcher Bowron Square near City Hall, where demonstrators heard anti-Trump speeches, including one from Rep Brad Sherman (D-Porter Ranch).

The San Fernando Valley lawmaker has put himself at odds with House Democratic leaders by drafting and circulating articles of impeachment, accusing Trump of trying to thwart the FBI's investigation into Flynn.

"We have to act now to protect our country from abuse of power and impulsive, ignorant incompetence," Sherman said. The crowd cheered and began chanting, ''Lock him up.''

In the shade of a nearby ficus tree, Edward Holzhauer, 51, of Palm Desert clutched a long foam pool noodle wrapped with pink duct tape that he had moulded to look like a giant drinking straw. The attached sign read, ''This is the last straw.''

Holzhauer drove in from the Coachella Valley to attend the march because the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is ''hurtful,'' he told The Los Angeles Times. ''I can't take it anymore.''

A sticker on his shirt read ''Healthcare, not warfare.''

Still, he said, Trump's election has created one silver lining: He's become politically active for the first time since high school, supporting local candidates for public office and attending city council meetings.

As demonstrators left the rally, they passed a modest white tent on the lawn of City Hall, with a sign reading ''Empathy Tent.''

Inside, Edwin Rutsch of Berkeley sat on an orange camping chair, mediating a discussion between a Trump supporter and an impeachment marcher. They sparred over whether Trump had ever lied or committed any impeachable offenses, their voices sometimes rising.

Rutsch repeatedly broke into the argument, urging them to ''reflect back,'' or summarize their debate partner's points before launching into a counterattack. The exercise was designed to increase empathy, he said.

The Los Angeles march began at Pershing Square. John Meranda, 56, of Long Beach brandished a sign showing Trump's face on the body of a baby, with the word ''impeach'' spelled out in wooden blocks.

''Every day when I wake up, something is more terrible than it was yesterday,'' Meranda said.

At a rally before the impeachment march, three to four dozen Trump supporters gathered on the sidewalk outside Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in an area roped off by yellow police tape. Many had American flags hoisted over their shoulders or tied around their necks.

Matthew Woods, a 55-year-old street musician from West Hills, dismissed the investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign or the president's associates conspired with Russia during or after the election.

''It's all been disproven,'' Woods said. ''He has a right to terminate this inquiry … I think it's magnanimous of him to let them go on with it.''

In February, White House officials said the president fired national security advisor Michael Flynn because the former three-star Army general had lied to Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

A day later, Trump met with Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B Comey and told him he hoped ''you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,'' according to Comey.

Trump has disputed Comey's account. The president and his aides have denied any wrongdoing.

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