Photos by Hayden Goodridge / MTSU Sidelines
Nashville’s Kefauver Federal Building was the scene of a small but fervent protest Thursday night, as demonstrators gathered to publicly oppose what they believed to be President Donald Trump’s recent obstruction in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
The protest was one of hundreds organized nationwide by the progressive activist group, MoveOn, under the title “Nobody is Above the Law.” The group called for people to gather at 5 p.m. to protect the independence of Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
MoveOn’s nationwide call to protest was triggered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ resignation this Wednesday at the request of the president and subsequent replacement of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.
“Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel’s Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation,” the group’s website states. “By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as special counsel Robert Mueller’s boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation.”
Nashville’s particular protest was organized by the local group, Nashville Indivisible, with its volunteer coordinator Mark Brooks, 60, leading the crowd in chants at the corner of 8th Avenue and Broadway.
“What we want is for Trump to keep his hands off the special counsel,” he announced to a chorus of cheers.
The night also contained a number of impromptu musical performances by Judy Glass and local folk musicians, Shelby Bottom Duo.
Edward Ruben, a constitutional law professor at Vanderbilt University, also gave a short speech.
“This is not just an attack on the special counsel,” said Ruben. “… It’s an attack on democracy.”
Among protesters in the audience was Miguel Moravec, a 23-year-old Vanderbilt graduate who spent the night waving a massive flag throughout the crowd.
“I’m here because I want to stand up for democratic norms,” said Moravec. “As a young man who is coming-of-age, I have to exercise this right. It would be foolish not to, to just let this all go by and stay at home.”
While hoisting his flag, Moravec explained that “our flag is not just a republican symbol. It’s a universal patriotic symbol, and we are patriots here, standing up for the institutions that have made this country great.”
However, the protest wasn’t exclusively a youth demonstration. Middle-aged adults seemed to be the most prominent demographic. One of them was Brett Lawley, 56, who came clad in a large beard and Slash-esque top hat.
“I do this for my grandkids,” Lawley said. “Not a lot is going to change for me. They are the ones that need a clean environment, good wages and people that stand up for the working class.”
After the night grew cold and protesters started thinning out, the Kefauver Federal Building’s sidewalk began to look itself once again, but Brooks seemed to know that he had been the catalyst for something briefly unifying there.
“Tonight was a success,” Brooks said as he was packing up. “… You could tell the dedication of people who understand that democracy works when we get out in the streets and exercise our right to protest injustice.”
To contact News Editor Caleb Revill, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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