By Janette Ebbers, news staff
More than 200 demonstrators rallied at the State House Sunday calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate President Donald J. Trump and his administration’s connections to the Kremlin.
The protest, called the “Emergency Rally to Stand for Democracy,” featured a wide range of speakers including a local law professor, a Democratic State Committee member, and a high school citizen activist. Sign-holding protesters chanted slogans such as, “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”
The organizer of the rally, 29-year old Olivia Rose, built support for the event through its Facebook page with the assistance of local political advocacy groups Indivisible Massachusetts 4th Congressional District, Indivisible Metrowest Action and Waltham Huddles. Rose said the event was formed primarily as a reaction to newly-discovered ties between the Trump administration the Russian government.
“Our goals and primary objectives are to demand the appointment of a special prosecutor to spearhead an independent investigation into these alleged ties between the president’s campaign and administration to the Kremlin,” Rose said. “We support the free press; the way it is being vilified by the administration right now is deeply troubling.”
Rose said the emergency rally was spurred by the resignation of Michael Flynn a couple of weeks prior, and motivated by the need to order a special prosecution by an independent party.
“We feel like this is a very urgent issue, and that investigation needs to commence quickly,” Rose said. “Part of our mission in this is to keep the pressure on the administration as well as elected political officials to push through their various channels for such an investigation and the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Rose said the issue was especially important to protest because of its lack of publicity.
“Frankly, I think the most startling thing about this is the lack of attention that it’s getting from the public and from our elected officials, both state and federal level,” Rose said. “I feel like if it were anyone else, it would be the political scandal of the century, and maybe it still will be, but I feel like a lot is being swept under the rug.”
Margie Bleichman, a 60-year-old Brookline resident, said the issue of the Trump administration’s Russian ties was important to a lot of people partly because it has not gained much official attention.
“I think people are protesting that have never protested before in their lives,” Bleichman said. “People are coming to these and reaching across boundaries of specific actions that they might be interested in. I think it’s a viable cause.”
Bleichman also said the event was a nonpartisan issue primarily because it directly addressed violations of constitutional rights.
“I think this transcends partisanship,” Bleichman said. “I think it’s democracy, I think it’s free press, free speech, all of what our Constitution stands for, so I don’t really think there’s partisanship there. Human rights are nonpartisan.”
Rose also emphasized the universal nature of the protest on the basis that threats to democracy and the constitution were not divided on party lines.
“I think this particular matter is one that concerns all Americans because it concerns the freedom of our elections, and the integrity of our democracy,” Rose said. “I think those are things everyone can get behind, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent […] I think that’s really important in this case, that we welcome everyone to come and participate and share.”
Medha Palnati, one of the speakers, said empowerment of the media was important in today’s political climate. Palnati, a 16-year-old high school student from Massachusetts, is a citizen activist and advocate.
“We cannot continue to denounce the press in favor of our opinions, calling them incorrect statements while they are on the left and alternative facts when they are on the right because the truth must come out,” Palnati said. “We must fight to preserve the truth because our leaders no longer recognize truth’s value. The burden has fallen on us. It is our duty to preserve what is true.”
Photo by Jake Wang