Douglas Brown of Indivisible Bellingham rallies the crowd outside of City Hall on Thursday, Apr. 4, 2019. // Photo by Hailey Hoffman
By Ian Ferguson
Hundreds of Bellingham activists rallied together as part of a national mobilization demanding the public release of the entire Special Counsel investigation report by Robert Mueller.
The rally, organized by local activism group Indivisible Bellingham on Thursday, April 4, encouraged activists to voice dissatisfaction with Attorney General William Barr, who declined to release the full investigation despite requests from congressional leaders.
According to a report by The Associated Press, the nearly two-year-long investigation concluded on March 22 when Mueller submitted the report to Attorney General Barr. On March 24, Barr addressed a four-page summary to leading members of congress detailing the key findings of the report.
According to Barr’s summary, the investigation was focused into two parts: Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and potential obstruction of justice regarding the actions of President Donald Trump.
Barr stated there was no evidence of collusion linked to President Trump or his campaign, and that the report is inconclusive as to whether the president has obstructed justice.
In a letter addressed to Attorney General Barr following the summary release, six leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives demanded that Congress receive the full report by April 2.
This demand was not met, prompting the national activist organization, MoveOn, to call for mobilization across the country to voice the public’s dissatisfaction. Indivisible Bellingham took the call, catalyzing action for Bellingham activists.
Kevin Leja, one of the co-leaders of Indivisible Bellingham, said the public has a right to read the report because it was funded off the backs of American taxpayers.
“It’s not anybody else’s, it’s ours,” Leja said. “Because we paid for it, we feel that we should be able to see it and all of it.”
According to PolitiFact, the Mueller investigation has cost $25.7 million through “direct” and “indirect” expenses. However, the PolitiFact report said the costs have only been reported by the special counsel’s office through Sept. 1, 2018 and have likely accrued to a higher value.
“We’re saying, what’s there to hide? Everyone wants it released, release it. And that’s why we’re rallying today,” Leja said.
Indivisible Bellingham started as a small political action group following the 2017 inauguration of President Donald Trump. According to Leja, the group’s primary goal is to hold elected officials accountable for their actions while striving for societal equality, justice and fairness.
Co-leader Douglas Brown said the organization has no end of issues to address. Rallies like this are part of the bigger story of activism, he said.
“Fairness in government, the green new deal, too much money in governance, healthcare for all. It’s all related,” Brown said.
The rally began at 5 p.m. and lasted for about an hour. Activists gathered at the steps of Bellingham City Hall with signs and pickets in hand, mingling together and discussing the issue. Ralliers also huddled around two tables, where they were encouraged to write postcards addressed to Attorney General Barr, personally voicing their demands.
Brown was the first to address the crowd. At a podium on the top steps of city hall, he revved up the ralliers chanting, “Release our report! Release our report!” intermittently throughout his speech, where he addressed the high magnitude of importance in community rallies.
“Look around and say hello to the people around you,” Brown said to the crowd. “Connections like these are why we rally, connections like these are why we live!”
Brown said the event was a success, but he had hoped for a larger turnout. By his estimates, a crowd just shy of 300 attended the rally. While these were good numbers, Brown’s hopes were set in the thousands — a feat that is not uncommon for their rallies, he said.
“The people that were here were engaged, energetic and receptive, and I think that was a very good thing,” Brown said.
Colton Lanning, a third-year political science and Japanese double-major at Western, said it is important for communities to rally around particular issues like this.
“I’ve met so many new people today and really talked about important issues,” Lanning said. “[Rallying] is a really good way to bring people together and talk about things we don’t always talk about on a daily basis.”
According to Brown, the low rally numbers are also due to issue-dependant circumstances. The Release the Report rally was more of a legal issue, he said, which may be the reason fewer than expected showed.
“Something less cerebral, more visceral,” is what motivates people to get involved, he said.
Brown said in the coming weeks Indivisible Bellingham’s core crew will be meeting with Rep. Rick Larsen to voice concerns about four main issues: election reforms, a Green New Deal, healthcare for all and tax cuts.