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Passion, realism dominate Bay Area rallies on brink of impeachment

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It can never be claimed that President Donald J. Trump does not inspire civic engagement.

Since the tumultuous days leading up to the 2016 election, rallies, protests and marches have occurred at a frequency on par with the anti-war, free speech and civil rights movements. The eve of Trump’s official impeachment vote in the House would yet again draw masses out into chilly December streets.

Ching Wong/SFBay A crowd of protesters attending the “Impeach and Remove” rally march through Market Street in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. (Ching Wong/SFBay)

Organizers were busy Tuesday working out details for more than 600 nationwide Tuesday evening rallies dubbed “Nobody is Above the Law” events. The massive effort to energize people who support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office was a collaboration between Indivisible and MoveOn.org.

More than 20 events were planned in the Bay Area alone.

As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than 3,100 people RSVP’d to attend the San Francisco rally at the Federal Building. At the same time, more than 650 planned to join the rally in El Cerrito, more than 1,000 RSVP’d to the Oakland event and about the same number of people were expected in San Rafael.

In downtown Walnut Creek, 1,200 were expected at the intersection of South Main Street and Mount Diablo Boulevard, an area anchored by Tiffany’s & Co., Neiman Marcus, Pottery Barn and a swanky rooftop restaurant that charges exorbitant amounts for small food. Several hundred showed up with signs, ready to shout and sing.

Theresa Kaviani exemplifies many protesters who came out to pack sidewalks in the affluent area. She and her husband run a business from 1 Post Street in The City and together live very comfortably in Lafayette, Kaviani said. She says she actively volunteers with United Way and carries an anti-Trump protest sign in her car at all times.

She stood, yelling occasionally, at the edge of the intersection, dressed in a long green jacket with painted words across the back that read:

“I do care and you should too!”

Nik Wojcik/SFB Theresa Kaviani attends the impeachment eve rally in Walnut Creek, Calif. on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 wearing a jacket that reads: “I do care and you should too!”

Kaviani is quick to admit that she and her husband benefit financially from many of Trump’s policies, but thinking of her own children and others at the border drives her to reject the president.

Kaviani said:

“When you look at these people, my guess is most of them benefit from his policies, but I think … what’s your soul worth?”

In San Francisco, a group of well more than 1,000 met at the Federal Building at 5:00 p.m. and were marching toward Chinatown by 6:30 p.m. There was an angry tone to the crowd, but not violent. They were very clear that they want Trump impeached and removed.

Ching Wong/SFBay A crowd of protesters attending the “Impeach and Remove” rally march along Seventh Street in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. (Ching Wong/SFBay)

Diana Dowdy of Commit To Flip Blue is realistic about how the impeachment process will play out.

Dowdy said:

“It takes two-thirds of the vote (in the Senate) and Mitch McConnell has already written up the exoneration papers, I’m sure.”

Although she wholeheartedly supports Trump’s impeachment, her focus and that of her organization is on flipping the Senate in 2020. As she worked her way through the Walnut Creek crowd, recruiting volunteers, she was clear with people that change would not happen in any significant way without a change in Senate leadership.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly stated he does not intend to hold an unbiased trial, as he is legally obligated to do in accordance with the oath he takes. Senators are expected to act as impartial jurors in solemn and serious consideration of the Articles of Impeachment brought forth.

Ching Wong/SFBay A crowd of protesters hold signs while attending the “Impeach and Remove” rally outside the San Francisco Federal Building in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, December 17, 2019. (Ching Wong/SFBay)

Several Republican members of the Senate have already drawn conclusions and made statements to that effect. The situation is indicative of partisanship and nativism that has taken hold in United States.

Susan, who lives in unincorporated Walnut Creek and preferred not to provide her last name, views the division through the lens of a psychologist and union analyst. Although she is firmly in the “impeach and remove” camp, she acknowledges that Trump’s ardent supporters are largely people society has neglected.

Speaking about what it will take to mend the nation going forward, Susan said:

“It all starts one-on-one. You know, you need to know someone personally before you can begin to judge them.”

The full House is debating the impeachment Wednesday and it is expected that a vote will occur at some point in the day. Given the Democratic majority in the House, it is considered likely that the president will be formally impeached.

It is just as likely that, given the Republican majority in the Senate, Trump will be acquitted and remain in office as the first impeached president to run for reelection.

Nik Wojcik

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