About 60 take to Mystic streets for a 'Not My President's Day' rally

A group of protesters march through downtown Mystic to mark Presidents' Day with a 'Not My President's Day' rally against the policies of President Donald J. Trump Monday, February 20, 2017.  The group of about 60 gathered at the Johnny Kelley statue at West Main and Bank St., marched to the post office on East Main and back to the statue.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
A group of protesters march through downtown Mystic to mark Presidents' Day with a "Not My President's Day" rally against the policies of President Donald J. Trump Monday, February 20, 2017. The group of about 60 gathered at the Johnny Kelley statue at West Main and Bank St., marched to the post office on East Main and back to the statue. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Mystic — In a scene that’s become familiar over the past month, protesters from across the country took to the streets Monday to speak out against various things that President Donald Trump has said and done since being inaugurated.

At the corner of Bank and West Main streets here, about 60 area residents did the same.

Dubbed the “Not My President’s Day Rally,” the local event began at 1 p.m. At that point, attendees lined the small park where the statue of John J. Kelley stands, chanting things like “we are the popular vote” and “no hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.”

According to organizer Anni Rodgers, a 40-year-old local mother with two kids in the school system, the protest was open to all who are worried about the state of the nation.

Some, including her, named education as a primary concern.

Others held signs in support of a free press or environmental friendliness.

Still more found Trump’s stance on immigration troubling.

“The most American thing we can do is protest,” Rodgers said of why Presidents’ Day was ideal for the demonstration. “This is what our country was built on. Free expression and freedom from tyranny.”

Many drivers honked their horns in solidarity as they passed. But others, largely pedestrians, showed they disagreed with the crowd, which eventually proceeded down the sidewalks toward the local post office.

One man simply yelled, “Donald Trump.”

Another asked group members, while they were chanting that refugees are welcome, whether Republicans are welcome.

David Chang, a Watch Hill resident who passed the protesters on the sidewalk, said they should “go back to work.”

“We’ve been having elections for how many years?” he asked. “Hundreds. We weren’t happy with eight years of (Barack) Obama or eight years of (Bill) Clinton. We certainly wouldn’t have been happy with eight more years of (Hillary) Clinton. They need to get over it.”

Of the 13 municipalities The Day regularly covers, the popular vote in five went to Trump during last year's election. For comparison, only one of those municipalities, Preston, went to Mitt Romney in 2012.

In the four towns that flipped — Ledyard, Montville, North Stonington and Salem — 1,770 more people supported Trump than voted for Romney in 2012.

Across the state, 40 other towns flipped from Obama to Trump last year, while only about 10 flipped from Romney to Clinton.

According to the Associated Press, thousands of people showed up for New York City's "Not My President's Day" rally Monday, while hundreds more showed up to similar events in cities including Boston, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

In New London, a few people gathered on Parade Plaza in solidarity with the larger movement.

Rodgers, a member of the newly formed progressive, grassroots group called Rise Up Mystic, hasn’t organized an event like this in the past. She said she was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.

On the two Facebook event pages created to spread the word about the rally, only 23 people committed to going.

She knows the “not my president” rallying cry can be met with disdain, but she doesn’t mean it literally.

“At a time when our president is calling everyone who disagrees with him a liar, I think it is important for us to stand up and support the free press and others who are not afraid to speak their mind,” she said.

Of passers by, she said, “I hope they can see that even in a quiet and sometimes red corner of Connecticut, there are a lot of people who care very much about the direction of country and are not going to sit by and let democracy be pulled out from under us.”

l.boyle@theday.com

A group of protesters gather at the Johnny Kelley statue after marching through downtown Mystic to mark Presidents' Day with a 'Not My President's Day' rally against the policies of President Donald J. Trump Monday, February 20, 2017.  The group of about 60 gathered at the Johnny Kelley statue at West Main and Bank St., marched to the post office on East Main and back to the statue.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
A group of protesters gather at the Johnny Kelley statue after marching through downtown Mystic to mark Presidents' Day with a "Not My President's Day" rally against the policies of President Donald J. Trump Monday, February 20, 2017. The group of about 60 gathered at the Johnny Kelley statue at West Main and Bank St., marched to the post office on East Main and back to the statue. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

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