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'Nobody Is Above the Law' protest gathers activists in Bloomington


Protesters listen to Attorney Shelly McBride speak Nov. 8 outside the Monroe County Courthouse during a protest against the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. President Trump had been critical of Sessions after he recused himself from the Russia investigation in 2017.  Matt Begala

A crowd of more than 100 people gathered at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Monroe County Courthouse to protest President Trump’s ouster of his attorney general.

Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, recused himself from overseeing an investigation into the president’s campaign and possible collusion with Russia in March 2017.

“Nobody Is Above the Law” protests like this one were organized by Move On, a liberal political action committee, across the country Thursday night as part of the organization’s “Mueller Firing Rapid Response” plan.

People all over the country subscribed to an email list that would be activated if Trump appeared to be interfering with the investigation into his campaign. The investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, has already netted multiple indictments and guilty pleas.

When the email list was activated, participants all over the country were notified of pre-planned protests, all set to take place at 5 p.m. local time. The website says the firing of Sessions would not trigger the protests, but it did.

“This cannot just be a moment,” speaker Jean Capler said. “This needs to be the beginning of action.”

Speakers encouraged attendees to contact their representatives in Washington, D.C. and call for the acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, to recuse himself from the investigation, as Sessions had done. Whitaker has been publicly critical of the investigation in the past.

In Bloomington, many protesters held cardboard signs reading “Nobody Is Above the Law,” “Protect Mueller Protect Democracy” and other statements in support of the Mueller probe. At least one was made out of a pizza box.

A protester holds up a sign Nov. 8 outside the Monroe County Courthouse during a protest against the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by President Trump.  Matt Begala

“I do think these kind of gatherings of people who stand up, even at a moments notice, as kind of a liberty army, to say, ‘We will protect the rule of law and justice,’ that's important to send that signal,” Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton told the Indiana Daily Student. “I’m proud of Bloomington. We had several hundred people who showed up, chilly, moments notice, to say we are paying attention, and we are watching, and we care.”

The mayor said the Senate’s right tilt Tuesday night could pose a threat to the investigation.

“Neither the House nor the Senate before was doing much to monitor and oversee and control outrageous statements and actions,” Hamilton said. “It is very heartening that we will soon have an opposition party in the House.”

Protestor Gayle Gingrich said she feels more hopeful after Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. But, she said, she’s concerned that Sessions’ departure may be a sign that Mueller’s investigation will be blocked.

By 6 p.m., the protest had all but fizzled out. About eight people held signs on the stairs facing passing traffic at the corner of Kirkwood Avenue and Walnut Street.

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