Northampton demonstrators stand for democratic process as Congress is stormed

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  • Robert Davis, left, and Marcelle Walters, both of Northampton, take part in what organizer Michael Klare of Northampton termed “a personal witness for democracy” on Main Street in Northampton on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Andrea Ayvazian, left, Christian Mortelliti and Michael Klare, right, all of Northampton, take part in what Klare termed "a personal witness for democracy" with about 20 others on Main Street in Northampton on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michael Klare, at right with sign, and about 20 others took part in what Klare termed "a personal witness for democracy" on Main Street in Northampton on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Marcelle Walters, left, and Robert Davis, both of Northampton take part in what organizer Michael Klare of Northampton termed "a personal witness for democracy" on Main Street in Northampton on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michael Klare, center, of Northampton is joined by Christian Mortelliti, left, of Northampton and Lan Katz of Florence in what Katz termed “a personal witness for democracy” on Main Street in Northampton on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 1/6/2021 8:58:11 PM

NORTHAMPTON — As Congress met on Wednesday to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win, with violent supporters of exiting President Donald Trump storming the U.S. Capitol, a group of friends and neighbors stood in downtown Northampton to demand that elected officials protect democratic process.

Beginning at 1 p.m., around 15 people stood at the intersection of Main and King streets, some of them holding American flags or signs demanding that leaders uphold democracy. At the time, the Capitol had not yet been breached.

“I’m just outraged by the senators and House members who want to abuse their position in Congress to override the voice of the people,” said Northampton resident and event organizer Michael Klare.

Since losing both the Electoral College and popular votes in November’s presidential election, Trump has falsely asserted that he won and baselessly claimed voter fraud. While most members of Congress have rejected Trump’s claims, almost a dozen Republican senators said they would also contest the results.

On Tuesday night, Klare and his wife, Andrea Ayvazian, sent out a call to friends to join them in standing as a “personal witness for democracy” as Congress met to certify the results.

One attendee, Northampton resident Robert Davis, said the meeting to certify Biden’s win signifies the final days of Trump’s presidency and a need to continue fighting against injustice.

“It’s over, and it’s beginning,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a very rough road ahead, and those who were hiding under the rocks for years have been given a ‘come on out’” by Trump’s behavior, he added.

Trump’s lies, and the “hypocrisy and chaos” of the senators supporting him, are “consistent of many in the Republican Party, and it needs to stop,” he said.

Typically an event that draws little attention, Wednesday’s session of Congress to certify Biden’s win was disrupted by Trump supporters responding to the president’s call to gather and demand Congress overturn the election. A mob of Trump supporters breached the building, sending Congress into lockdown. A woman was shot and later died, according to the Associated Press.

The violence at the Capitol follows a chain of unprecedented attempts by Trump and those who support his false claims of election fraud to overturn Biden’s victory.

Like Davis, Klare also expressed concerns that Trump’s behavior normalizes anti-democratic thought.

“I’m nervous that this has done damage to the future of our democracy,” Klare said, “because any loser of an election can follow suit.”

He added, “after the election is over, we have to respect the outcome and not try to overthrow it through illegal and unjust means.”

State Reps. Jim McGovern and Richard Neal both announced via Twitter that they were sheltering in place amid Wednesday’s riot.

According to his office, McGovern was asked to preside over the House and maintain order after the House recessed in response to the lockdown. McGovern and the rest of the lawmakers were then evacuated to an undisclosed location.

“When the situation is under control, we will resume proceedings on the House floor. America’s democracy will never be deterred. Not today. Not ever,” McGovern wrote in a tweet.

Later on Wednesday, McGovern tweeted, “Today, our freedom, our democracy, and our country were attacked by domestic terrorists who were following Donald Trump’s orders.

“We’ll reconvene and certify the results soon,” he continued. “Those who participated in violence must be held accountable to the full extent of the law.” Congress eventually reconvened on Wednesday night. 

The Northampton demonstration on Wednesday afternoon remained peaceful, with many passers-by waving or honking their horns in support of those who had gathered. One person held a Biden-Harris sign outside of their car window as they drove by, while another shouted in support of “Black women taking down McConnell,” as Democratic candidates in Georgia were poised to win the state’s two runoff elections and take back the Senate majority from Republicans. A much smaller handful of people shouted disparaging remarks at the demonstrators.

Northampton resident Marty Nathan, who also attended the demonstration downtown, said that while the U.S. needs various reforms, “the bottom line is we need democracy, because without formal democracy, normal people have no access to power. It’s just owned by corporations and the very rich.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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