Hundreds protested in Baltimore, Catonsville, Bel Air and elsewhere Thursday as part of a national response to fears that President Donald Trump will quash the Russia investigation.
The "Nobody is Above the Law" protests were coordinated to take place in cities across the United States at 5 p.m., through MoveOn.org as a "rapid response" to Trump's firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his replacement with loyalist Matt Whitaker. In doing so, protest organizers said, the president crossed "a red line."
Baltimore protesters at the War Memorial Plaza carried signs saying "Protect Mueller" — referring to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and related matters — and spoke in dire terms of the week's events. Barbara Francis, 76, of Bolton Hill said she feared recent events marked "the start of the fall of the democracy."
Speakers Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. John Sarbanes promised to challenge the new appointment.
Though Cummings acknowledged that he is not a fan of Sessions, he said Trump had removed him not because of his character, but to "throw a monkey wrench into Mueller's efforts. … Whitaker is a man who made it clear that he does not believe in this investigation. … He must recuse himself."
Cummings is expected to become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In his new role, Cummings would have the authority to demand documents related to Trump's personal finances and policies, as well as possible agency abuses.
That power was touted by Sarbanes, who promised that Cummings will issue subpoenas and be "the people's best ally."
Peter Kirchgraber, 55, of Towson said Trump had flouted the rule of law, which he says "is what separates us from the banana republics." He said he saw disturbing parallels to the Weimar Republic in Germany.
Organizers of a protest outside U.S. Rep. Andy Harris' district office in Bel Air reported that 110 people were present, lining both sides of Churchville Road. People chanted, waved American flags and held protest signs as evening rush-hour traffic passed. Several drivers honked their horns in support.
In Catonsville, Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler, County Councilman Tom Quirk and County Council Chairman Julian Jones joined dozens of protesters calling for the independence and protection of Mueller's investigation into Russia, Trump and the 2016 election.
"I'm afraid that I see so many people in our country that don't see how dangerous this is for our democracy," Jones said.
Speeches from officials and protesters were punctuated with honks of support, chants of "Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go," and a cry of "Witch hunt!" from a passing car.
Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Cody Boteler and David Anderson contributed to this article.