Demonstrators mark Presidents Day with anti-Trump rallies

Protesters rally Feb. 20 in Kansas City, Mo., on Presidents Day. (NCR/George Goss)
Protesters rally Feb. 20 in Kansas City, Mo., on Presidents Day. (NCR/George Goss)

by George Goss

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Kansas City was among more than two dozen cities fielding "Not My President's Day" rallies and other protests Feb. 20. Several hundreds of anti-Trump demonstrators gathered in a midtown city park to send a message to the 45th U.S. president: opposition.

The Facebook page announcing the event, "Presidents Day Protest KC," was created under the moniker, "The People vs. The President of the United States."

"Together with all of you, we are 'The People vs. the President of the United States,' " said Maggie Dowling Kortchmar, the organizer of the rally, to cheering and claps of approval.

Kortchmar functioned as MC, firing up the crowd with chants like: "We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter."

Kortchmar also introduced a handful of speakers, including Fatima Mohammadi of the Muslim Civic Initiative, an organization that seeks to mobilize the 30,000-strong Muslim community in Kansas City toward greater civic engagement.

"Oh, my God, how creative are we?" Mohammadi asked the protesters, praising them for the ingenuity of their signs, several of which read:

"A sign as white a Trump's Cabinet."

"Hillary won by 2,865,075 votes, Putin elected Trump."

"Immigration isn't a problem to solve it's an opportunity to seize."

"The press is not our enemy."

Applause and cheering often accompanied Mohammadi's speech, which focused on a redress of wrongs associated with the American political order.

"We have hundreds and hundreds of years of injustice to unravel," Mohammadi said. "You cannot say that this country was built on the ideals of freedom, democracy and justice without acknowledging that it was first built on a foundation that was anti-Native, anti-black, anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-any faith other than Christianity."

Following Mohammadi was Edward Cantu, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who warned the crowd, "I will probably not be getting nearly as many warm applauses as she got," as he launched into an overview of the initial intent of constitutional framers for there to be a strict separation of powers

President Donald Trump has likely done things that are "blatantly unconstitutional," Cantu said. But he added that it hinders effective problem-solving to ignore that Democratic presidents have also violated the Constitution.

He said that as a liberal and the grandson of those who illegally entered the United States, he needs to get out of his own "political echo chambers" and that President Barack Obama likely overstepped Congress' legitimate role as the legislative branch when attempting immigration reform.

"I tend to feel for these people that are technically deportable under immigration laws, but the fact is that I think there is a strong argument that Barack Obama was behaving blatantly unconstitutionally when he did that," Cantu said.

The crowd was mostly quiet during his speech save for several instances of applause.

"Those who want to take more action need to do more boring stuff," Cantu said. "Watch more C-SPAN."

Paul Martin, a protester who listened to Cantu's speech, realized that barring an impeachment, those opposing Trump needed to play the long game.

"The next four years are years of rebuilding for the Democratic Party to complete a takeover in 2020," Martin said while wearing a blue hat in the same cut and style as Trump's red one, but emblazoned with white letters, "Immigrants make America great."

[George Goss is in charge of special projects at NCR.]

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