LIHUE — Lee Ann Spencer was inspired to get involved in politics the day President Donald Trump took his oath of office.
“I was sitting, watching the train wreck happen. There are things I’ve taken for granted — free speech, equal rights for women, protecting the environment — and I look around and see these things under attack,” she said. “The people in power want to roll back our rights 50 years or more. I’m here today to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Spencer was one of about 40 people who attended the “Continuing Our Revolution” rally and march Sunday at the state building in Lihue to raise awareness about Trump’s actions during his first month in office. The rally started with speeches from members of the community and ended with a march down Hardy Street.
Handmade signs were displayed on the steps of the building, bearing messages like “Defend health care,” “Protect EPA,” “Kauai wants ACA,” “Save the EPA,” “Science matters,” and “Tweet everyone with respect.”
The effort was part of a nationwide movement to protest during the first congressional recess of Trump’s presidency, said Michael Ceurvorst, of the Kauai Democratic Party.
From Feb. 18-26, about 200 events took place at elected officials’ town hall meetings around the country, according to resistancerecess.com.
The Kauai event was organized by several island groups such as Kauai Indivisible, Kauai for Bernie, the Kauai Democratic Party and the Kauai Women’s Justice Democrats, formerly known as the Kauai Women’s Caucus, Ceurvorst said.
“We’re lucky enough to have representatives that represent us well on most issues, but it’s important to let people know we’re there and watching,” Ceurvorst said. “We’re happy to participate in the effort.”
While much of the national effort focused on Trump’s plans for health care, Medicare and Medicaid, people on Kauai have their own concerns, he said.
“For me, I’m concerned about Trump’s taxes and his connection with Russia and China,” he said.
Susan Oakley, who attended the rally, said she is worried about the new department heads who are taking office.
“When it was announced that Rick Perry was in the running for the Department of Energy, that brought a lot of things in focus for me,” she said. “Then Betsy DeVos was named education secretary.”
Marilyn McKinnon said she’s also concerned about the people Trump nominated for leadership roles.
“I see segregation coming back,” she said.
Those who were born and raised in America have the responsibility to fight for American values, Spencer said.
“If we stand for anything, we stand for a place in the world that is about equal opportunity, fairness, freedom and hope for all,” she said. “Those of us who were privileged to be raised in this country have the responsibility to make sure that vision stays a reality.”
Moving forward, John Teschner of Kauai Indivisible hopes that Kauai residents will keep the momentum they gained after the 2016 election and use it for years to come.
“We’re going to have another election in another couple of years and it’s really important for everyone to stay involved and not let this energy we feel now diminish,” he said.