About 50 people gathered Thursday at Davenport’s LeClaire Park to protest President Donald Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointment of Matthew Whitaker, a former U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, as interim Attorney General.
The protesters, some carrying signs while others wrapped themselves in blankets against a cold wind, were part of a nationwide protest event organized by March On and the Nobody is Above the Law coalition.
Whitaker, who was Sessions’ chief of staff, has been described as a Trump loyalist and the protesters fear he was appointed by Trump to stop the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into efforts of foreign governments to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The investigation is primarily focusing on ties that Russia may have had to Trump’s election campaign.
“This is not the country we built in 1776,” said Karene Nagel, of Davenport, as she spoke to the crowd through a megaphone. “We have a constitution. We’re supposed to be a nation of laws. We’re also supposed to be a nation of representation. It’s purely one-sided. They all have their plans, their agenda.
“There’s no way he (Trump) can drive away this investigation,” Nagel said. “This investigation has to go on until we get to the bottom of it all.”
As she talked, some of the protesters chanted, “Protect the investigation. We want the truth,” and “One nation under law, no one is above the law.”
Rabbi Linda Bertenthal, who is the interim leader of Temple Emmanuel in Davenport, said citizens have an ethical duty to “hold our government to ethical levels.”
“When we have a president who is corrupt, when we have a president who is racist, when we have a president who is trying to drive us down to the lowest common denominator, we all suffer spiritually and we are the people,” she said.
“We are the people and we know what America is made of and we know what makes America great and what makes America great is not and never will be hate. What makes America great is not and never will be self-interest. What makes America great is people coming together in love and in dedication to upholding the ethical principles and values of our nation.”
Hephzibah Cameron of Camanche, Iowa, asked the crowd why they were at the park, and the answer from the crowd was the firing of Sessions “crossed the line.”
“That was the red line,” Cameron said. “This is government corruption. We do not know at this point if our country will follow the rule of law.
“You don’t have to like Trump, you don’t have to hate Trump,” she said. “There has to be a line. The line has to be the rule of law. It has to be applied equally to everyone.”
At this the crowd chanted, “No one’s above the law.”
Many in the crowd simply wanted a moment for their voices to be heard.
Some of the signs protesters carried read, “Protect Mueller,” and “Whitaker must recuse.” Other signs said that, “Trump is not king,” and “Nobody is above the law.”
The protest began at 5 p.m. and ended after about 45 minutes.