Protesters chant and hold signs at a rally to protest the appointment of acting attorney general Mathew Whitaker on Nov. 8, 2018 at the Bellingham courthouse. // Photo by Oliver Hamlin
By Emma Kivlin
People of all ages gathered on the steps of City Hall to come together for a Nobody is Above the Law rally, put on by Indivisible Bellingham, a local branch of a national nonprofit organization.
The event was one of an estimated 900 rallies occurring nationwide, all protesting the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Sessions was replaced with his previous chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, event coordinator Kevin Leja said.
This change of staff raised questions for many as it could directly affect the ongoing special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller, Leja said.
“Whitaker is a person who has come out vocally on news media and elsewhere about how much he thinks the Mueller investigation, which is investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 election, is a hoax,” Leja said. “We figured it was time to speak out and say something.”
Sessions recused himself from the investigation in early 2017 due to his involvement in Trump’s presidential campaign and the investigation has since been led by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“We feel [the hiring of Whitaker] may be an impediment to the investigation, when it is so important for us to find out what happened to our election,” Leja said.
Indivisible Bellingham sent emails, posted online and sent out action alerts notifying members of the Bellingham community of the rally.
The rally had a multi-generational turnout, with toddlers bundled up in parents’ arms and senior citizens holding protest signs.
Co-leader of Indivisible Bellingham Doug Brown spoke to the crowd from a megaphone, letting rally goers take turns using it to share personal stories, chants and sing songs.
Members of Indivisible Bellingham passed around contact information for Congress members, senators and representatives as a call to action for those in attendance to continue the movement after tonight, Brown said.
“Indivisible Bellingham’s mission is to be politically active, to fight for fairness and justice, and hold our representatives accountable,” Leja said.
Many participants were emotional as they chanted protest songs peacefully, swaying back and forth with linked arms.
Rallier Beth Nyblade dressed in layers to stay warm, holding a homemade protest sign.
This means everything to me,” Nyblade said.
Speakers talked about the results of the 2018 midterm elections as well as voter suppression, poll turnout and their personal opinions on these issues.
Whatcom County has seen the most participation from registered voters this past midterm election than it’s seen in recorded history, which goes back to the 60s, Leja said.
“A lot of people are feeling a little bit more empowered, feeling like they have more possibilities for action,” Leja said. “There’s an energy right now in the country for people to be active and to stay active, and that’s part of what we’re all about.”
For more information on Indivisible Bellingham, events they’re planning and monthly meeting dates, visit their website at https://indivisiblebellingham.org/events/