Large turnout at Anchorage rally for Trump impeachment

Alaskans rallied in front of the federal building in Anchorage on Dec. 17, 2019, in support of impeaching President Donald Trump. (Photo courtesy Alaskans for Impeachment of President Trump/Facebook)

Approximately 150-200 people gathered for a rally outside the federal building in Anchorage at noon on Tuesday. The crowd was calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment and removal from office ahead of a vote expected in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday. The event was one of several hundred similar mobilizations around the country organized by progressive and liberal political groups.

Attendees were bundled up in the cold, clustered on sidewalk corners of a busy intersection in downtown Anchorage. They waved signs at passing traffic, trading car horn honks for cheers.

Most of the sign slogans were pretty straightforward: “Impeachment Now,” or “Nobody’s Above the Law.” Jamie Rodriguez’s read “Country before party.”

“This is not Democrat, Republican,” Rodriguez said. “It’s American.”

Though she was wearing a “Recall Dunleavy” campaign button, Rodriguez said she was at the rally on principal, not as a partisan. Still, when it comes to how the impeachment proceedings are playing out, she faulted Republicans more than Democrats.

“They aren’t doing their jobs. They’re making a travesty out of this,” Rodriguez said.

That was a sentiment expressed by a lot of rally attendees. The signs may have singled out Trump, but many were there to send a message to the state’s congressional delegation, demanding, among other things, that they push to remove the president from office.

“Lisa Murkowski is a very honorable, honest, valuable person,” Cindy Roberts said.

“We know that she is being targeted by the majority in the Senate, and we believe that she can make a very honest decision, so (I’m) lobbying for that,” she said.

Like a lot of the people at the rally, Roberts does not have a lot of confidence that Alaska’s other senator, Sen. Dan Sullivan, will break from the Republican party on an impeachment trial.

Roberts has been glued to the House hearings on Trump’s alleged misconduct soliciting an investigation from the Ukrainian government against a political rival in exchange for releasing military aid. Malcolm Roberts, Cindy’s husband, worked for Republican Wally Hickel when he served in the Nixon Administration, and helped get Rep. Don Young elected to the congressional seat he still holds.

“Now it’s time for some fresh blood,” he said.

Malcolm Roberts thinks Young’s conduct on the impeachment investigation is disappointing.

The couple says they want accountability for what seems like a clear case of the president abusing his power in office, as it’s been laid out in the House articles of impeachment.

Rally-goer River Bean drove down from Palmer, and sees the two articles brought against Trump as the bare minimum in a long list of impeachable offenses.

“There are lots more. But I understand the need to focus on two,” he said.

He thinks the House impeachment vote is symbolically important, but he isn’t optimistic the Senate will act impartially trying the charges.

“It doesn’t seem like the general population is swayed at all,” he said.

Bean doesn’t think the impeachment hearings have changed many people’s minds, That’s a sentiment evidenced in the latest NPR, PBS News Hour, Marist Poll, which found the public’s attitudes towards impeachment “statistically unchanged” over the course of the hearings.

Bean said he’s voted for politicians from different parties over the years, but that things have changed under Trump. Like other people at the rally, he thinks divisive national conversations have trickled down to the state level, driving wedges between residents and neighbors who used to get along in spite of ideological differences.

“Our whole neighborhood, we’ve been there for three decades, and all the sudden people don’t talk to us,” Bean said. “It’s like, why?”

Across the country, the progressive advocacy group Move On helped organize events, and lists a broad range of state and national partner groups as part of its “Impeach and Remove” campaign.

There were no visible counter-protesters outside the federal building, although a few drivers rolled down their windows to shout pro-Trump slogans to the crowd.

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Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. @ZachHughesAK About Zachariah