"A March to Defend Democracy" held in Westport
WESTPORT — Organized to give various groups and individuals a venue for expressing their outrage and concerns, the CT on the Move march and rally, held Sunday in Westport, did just that.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 people blocked the eastbound side of the Post Road as they marched from Jesup Green to Veterans Green by Town Hall, where a rally featured speeches by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.
“There are a lot of people out there who are not happy with what they’ve been getting,” Murphy said.
“We know that political action works,” he said.
“What we wanted to do was give people a venue to come and voice their issues and give people an outlet for all their energies,” said Nita Prasad of Westport, one of four Westport women who created the group DefenDemocracy and organized the event.
“We’ve been working on this for months,” she said.
At least a dozen groups were represented, including Fairfield Standing United, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, and Indivisible Connecticut. Speakers addressed issues ranging from immigration to education, with an emphasis on blasting President Donald Trump and his administration for a range of actions.
“This kind of outpouring is what the nation needs,” Blumenthal said, crediting the failure of Trump’s healthcare bill, which he called “cartoonishly cruel and incompetent,” to similar grassroots’ protests.
“The country rose up, as you’re doing here,” he said.
“Nothing is as powerful as a small group of citizens committed to change the world,” he said.
“This was your victory,” echoed Himes, who spoke of Trump’s election as being a reflection of a fear of change.
“What happened in November is Donald Trump and a couple of others (built) on insecurity … But the good news is in this country we’re Americans and we don’t do fear well, and we don’t fear very long,” he said.
“There are reasons for us to be optimistic and proud of our country and proud of who we are,” Himes said. “America and her sense of decency and all her shared values will prevail.”
Murphy received the longest, loudest applause, accompanied by chants of “Chris!”
“There are days when I feel down,” he said, “when I feel like I’m on the mat, and this picks me up again … This moment is enormous.”
“Remember what happened on Friday,” he said. “There’s no way that that would have been stopped without what we’ve done here in Connecticut.”
“We wanted to come together as a community and really energize each other and lift each other up and raise our voices,” said Lauren Soloff, co-founder of DefenDemocracy.
“Really the goal is to show our community and our children that our voices really matter and we can make a difference,” she said.
Selectman Avi Kaner, a Republican, attended the event, along with GOP First Selectman Jim Marpe.
“Anything that unites us and gets us together for a common cause is beneficial,” Kaner said, “and sets a wonderful example for our children, particularly with everything that’s going on in Washington.”
“Honestly, I’m scared to death of everything that’s going on,” said Leanne Harpin of Fairfield, one of many activists in attendance. “We’re not living in ordinary times.”
While it was intended to be an event aimed, in part, at assuaging divisiveness between political parties, many signs clearly marked disillusionment in and contempt for Trump.
Meanwhile, during one moment of Blumenthal’s speech someone drove by with a loudspeaker and yelled to the crowd to “Make America Great again” in homage to Trump.