Local rallies show support for impeachment

  • Aileen Gildea-Pyne holds up a light-up sign in support of impeachment during a rally Tuesday evening on the Belchertown Common in support of impeaching President Donald Trump. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Leah Ryan takes her Impeach sign to the “Nobody is Above the Law” rally Tuesday at the Belchertown Town Common. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Belchertown Voices for Justice organized a rally Tuesday at the Town Common to support the impeachment process. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Protestors gathered on the Belchertown Common as part of the “Nobody is Above the Law” rallies happening nationwide Tuesday in support of impeaching President Donald Trump. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Aileen Gildea-Pyne holds up a light-up sign in support of impeachment during a rally Tuesday evening on the Belchertown Common in support of impeaching President Donald Trump. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Concerned citizen Mike Konstan waves an American flag during the “Nobody is Above the Law” rally Tuesday in Belchertown. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Residents, activists, and organizers gather on the corner of the Belchertown Town Common, Tuesday, to show support for impeaching President Donald Trump. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

Staff Writer
Published: 12/17/2019 11:40:49 PM

BELCHERTOWN — Outside on Tuesday, the picture was bleak: snow and ice caked the ground and rain drizzled down. But passing by the Belchertown Town Common on Main Street, the image was far from gloomy as some 50 people — some waving glow sticks — lined the street.

“What do we want?” one of the protesters shouted. “Impeachment!” came the response. “When do we want it?” was the next question. “Now!”

Those gathered in the cold were taking part in a “Nobody Is Above the Law” rally — one of hundreds of similar rallies across the nation meant to show support for the impeachment of President Donald Trump over his withholding of military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden.

“We want to point out that there is a lot of public support,” said event co-organizer Tammy Ryan, of the group Belchertown Voices for Justice. “For impeachment and removal from office.”

Clear conscience

The rallies came as the House is poised to vote Wednesday on two articles of impeachment — for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The House moved a step closer to that vote on Tuesday, when the House Rules Committee voted on rules for Wednesday’s proceedings, including that there will be six hours of debate on the House floor.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, chairs the Rules Committee, putting him at the center of the proceedings on Tuesday.

“No one should be allowed to use the powers of the presidency to undermine our elections or cheat in a campaign. No matter who it is. And no matter their party,” McGovern said in his opening remarks as the Rules Committee debated the resolution to impeach Trump. “Today we’ll put a process in place to consider these articles on the House floor. And when I cast my vote in favor, my conscience will be clear.”

McGovern and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, have said they will vote in favor of the two articles of impeachment.

On Tuesday, supporters of impeachment rallied in front of the federal courthouse in Springfield, which is also where Neal’s office is located. Speakers included Northampton resident and Politico contributing editor Bill Scher.

“I think there’s an imperative to rally the public as best as possible to say we can’t let the subversion of our democratic institutions go unchallenged,” Scher said in a phone interview ahead of the rally.

House Democrats ultimately decided to focus their impeachment inquiry narrowly on the Ukraine scandal, declining to pursue other possible impeachable offenses — personally profiting off the presidency or separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, for example.

Scher said that strategy was likely a way to bring aboard Democrats who might not have been comfortable pursuing a broader list of possible crimes.

“You work with what you have,” he said.

In Belchertown, much of the response to the rally consisted of encouraging honks from passing cars.

“It’s really good to see the support we’re getting from the community,” co-organizer Cliff McCarthy said. He added that some people in town oppose impeachment, and that’s their right. As if on cue, a truck drove past the crowd with the passenger shouting “Trump 2020.”

McCarthy said that he remembers the impeachment of Richard Nixon in 1974. He said that this time around, the feel is “totally different.”

“In those days, there was a sense of public service that our congressmen and senators had that superseded politics,” he said. Now, he added, “it’s just politics and our nation’s integrity doesn’t matter.”

Standing nearby were Jon Weissman and Joan Grenier, of Granby. Grenier said that she was happy with the turnout at the protest, given the cold and wet weather.

“I don’t think you can ignore such widespread corruption on the part of this president,” she said.

Weissman, for his part, said he would have liked to see House Democrats pursue other articles of impeachment, especially given the unlikelihood that the Republican-controlled Senate will convict the president.

“If they’re going to lose in the Senate, why not go for everything he’s guilty of?” Weissman asked.

Recent opinion polling shows that the country is largely split on the question of whether to impeach Trump, with 47.4 percent of Americans in favor and 46.6 percent opposed, according to a polling tracker created by the website FiveThirtyEight.

Support largely falls along party lines, with some 82 percent of Democrats in favor of impeachment but only 10 percent of Republicans, according to the tracker.

Two counterprotesters huddled off to the side of the large impeachment rally in Belchertown, holding a Trump flag. Alex Prefontaine, 18, of Belchertown, was one of the two. On the question of impeachment, he said his mind is already made up.

“I think it’s a load of crap,” he said.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.
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