Hundreds of demonstrators braved the chilly rain in Times Square on Tuesday to call for the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump, who is accused of withholding military aid to the Ukraine in order to pressure that country’s president to investigate Trump’s domestic political rivals. Democrats have also accused the president of obstructing the Congressional investigation into the matter.
The rally and march to Union Square was one of hundreds of scheduled “Impeach and Remove” demonstrations organized around the country on the eve of an expected vote in the House of Representatives on articles of impeachment.
“I'm a 70 year old woman, and my grandparents came here to escape Hitler,” said Marion Harris, who lives on the Upper West Side. “And so I have no right to sit on the couch and not participate in democracy.”
In a furious and rambling letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, President Trump called the impeachment proceedings an 'unconstitutional abuse of power’ and labeled his own actions “totally innocent.”
For demonstrators like Theresa Francis, however, the evidence against Trump was rock-solid and proved that he had attempted to get a foreign power to influence the 2020 election.
“I'm protesting and I'm loving it. I want my voice to be heard and I want to do things to change this. America is divided, he's divided this country and it's not right,” Francis said. “He needs to be impeached and removed.”
The participating local groups included Rise and Resist, Common Cause New York, By the People and Empire State Indivisible. While the damp weather likely discouraged some people from attending, some demonstrators were surprised that more people didn’t show up.
“I was hoping for a larger turnout,” said Christopher Ho, a Brooklyn resident. “I think a lot of people are getting just saturated, and a lot of people are getting a sense of futility about all of this, and it’s kind of sad.”
For her part, Serena Hertzog, a 19-year-old from Philadelphia, had expected a younger crowd, and estimated that those who were in attendance were “90 percent white or white-passing.”
“It’s disheartening,” she said. “I was hoping there would be more young people. I think that shows we need to make even more of an effort to make young people feel like their voices are valued, because they so are. The future of our country is in all of our hands.”
Some older demonstrators brought a mixture of resolve and fatalism to the rally.
David Turkheimer came from the Bronx, he said, to “represent.”
“I don’t know how much you can do with a demonstration, but you gotta show up,” he said, holding a sign that read “Trump is not above the law.”
Turkheimer was fairly confident House Democrats would vote to impeach, but that Senate Republicans would “obstruct” and refuse to, in his mind, “do the right thing.”
“We don’t seem to have a plan for what happens after the Senate screws it up,” he said.
The larger lesson of the proceedings, said Turkheimer, was that Americans had grown complacent over the years.
“We were just expecting to continue with a liberal democracy without any problems, and I guess that was really naive,” Turkheimer said. “We needed to pay more attention and be more aggressive and keeping the democracy going.”
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on Articles of Impeachment on Wednesday, likely making Trump the third president in American history to be impeached. You can follow along here.