The Patriots Resist rally has been a pretty common sight in downtown Westminster over the past four years.
The participants, sometimes a handful, sometimes many, many more, convened essentially every Saturday from when President Donald Trump was inaugurated through his defeat last November. The plan was to largely go on hiatus after the election, but when Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, the hiatus went on hiatus and the rallygoers returned to Main Street, Westminster, on Saturday.
Patriots Resist founder Henry Reiff said Saturday afternoon that not turning up after what happened Wednesday would’ve sent the wrong message.
“The events of this past week ... have compelled us to return now,” Reiff said via email on the eve of the rally. “We are standing up for the fundamentals of democracy and resisting an unhinged president and his delusional followers who have attempted a violent and unprecedented insurrection designed to overthrow a duly elected government.”
Reiff said between 20 and 30 showed up and spent time at the rally and that numerous cars driving up and down Main Street waved and honked horns in a supportive manner.
“I think it was great. There were very few negative reactions,” he said, theorizing that maybe some of those who may have reacted negatively in the past had their eyes opened about Trump on Wednesday.
Reiff, a retired McDaniel College professor, said he was cursed and punched in the face in early December while carrying a flag showing support for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. A Westminster man was arrested, charged with second-degree assault and released on $7,500 bond in advance of a trial.
After that, and after the events of Wednesday in Washington that included a shooting, bombs recovered and five deaths, there was some worry about how the resisters would be received Saturday.
“People on Facebook said, ‘I don’t think you should do the rally this weekend.’ Tensions were high. My wife was a little concerned,” Reiff said, noting that the potential for violence was in the back of his mind Saturday, but proved to be nothing to worry about.
“No, not at all. It was a peaceful rally,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of pushback.”
Reiff mentioned that he got into an argument with one group who questioned the rallygoers’ use of the American flag. He took his share of the blame, saying he regretted raising his voice but that he thinks he might have post-traumatic stress disorder since his assault and is more easily triggered than he would like.
He said Saturday’s rally was successful, but he also knows Carroll County voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016 and 2020.
“Perhaps our larger goal is to arrive at a time when Carroll countians will not be so willing to follow an unhinged ‘leader’ and to believe lies because they fit their own narrative of victimization and anger,” he said. “Even after the images of a violent insurrection, the majority of Republicans continue to believe the absurdity of a stolen election. Our country continues to be threatened by the mayhem Donald Trump has created.
“Over the past four years, we have been asked why and what we resist. I think Wednesday answered that question unequivocally.”
But Reiff also said the Patriots Resist rally is about more than just protesting Trump and that citizens from both sides of the political aisle are welcome. He said the rallies will continue, likely on a monthly basis, during the BIden presidency.
“We have tried to be nonpartisan in that we support basic rights and values such as social justice, racial equity, access to health care and housing, the legitimacy of science and medicine, etc.,” Reiff said via email. “As much as we support the Biden administration, we are under no illusion that they will be able to address all these concerns effectively.
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“We plan to continue rallying to hold this administration accountable regarding their promises and goals.”