LIHUE — The one word on a sign held by Katie Vercelli seemed to express what about 100 protesters were saying Thursday.
“We want to protect the Mueller investigation, want to resist intolerance, injustice, bigotry, prejudice and just celebrate the good things that we’re all here for,” said Vercelli, who was wearing a T-shirt with the word “Resist” joined by an image of the Statue of Liberty.
The Kapaa woman said what is needed is “positive human connection and to really help bring people together to resist this movement of hatred and intolerance and bring us back to our collective unity of this country.”
Liz Crites of Lihue said people have to take a stand.
“There has been so much corruption that the Republican Congress has not addressed, so I’m saying checks and balances isn’t working any more and I think the people need to speak up to save our democracy,” she said.
The Kauai protest at the intersection of Ahukini Road and Kapule Highway near Lihue Airport was one of many nationwide rallies calling for the protection of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election season.
The crowd of mostly middle-aged men and women was in good spirits during the rally that started at 5 p.m. and lasted about an hour. They whooped, yelled and waved when passing cars honked in support. Some held signs that said “Trump is not above the law,” “Fight Back,” and “Don’t Dismantle our Democracy.”
Protest organizers say the naming of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is a “deliberate attempt to obstruct the special counsel’s investigation.”
Trump asked for Jeff Sessions’ resignation and then replaced him with Whitaker, his chief of staff. Whitaker has criticized Mueller’s probe.
Congressional Democrats have already called on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation.
The call for the Kauai rally went out Wednesday night. It asked supporters to “take it to the streets to protect our Constitution.”
“We need to hit the streets and speak up to show Donald Trump that the power still lies with the American people,” according to an email.
David Lemon of Lihue said he is concerned about the breakdown in what constitutes facts and the rule of law.
“I think it’s really important to avoid what is starting to look like an authoritarian trend,” he said. “You gotta speak up.”
While he is worried about the direction of the country, Lemon said “I think we have a chance to make it right.”
Cynthia McClung of Kapaa said she was encouraged by Tuesday’s general election results that saw Democrats gain control of the U.S. House, and many minorities and women being elected to key posts.
“It was a shot in the arm. Folks are definitely sending a message that this is not OK,” she said.
But she remains concerned “about the possibility that our country is losing its democracy.
“It’s pretty clear that Trump is working very hard to undermine the processes that were put in place to make sure that we’re not being interfered with by a foreign influence,” McClung said.
Margie Merryman said she was fighting for democracy as she held a sign that read “Save Mueller.”
“I’m concerned that the president will try to get rid of Mueller and I think that it’s important to the American people to find out the truth of the investigation,” she said.
She remains worried about what she said was a rise in white nationalism across the country.
“This just has to stop,” Merryman said.
She said when people come together they can influence change.
“Hopefully the country can turn things around,” she added.
Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.