Protesters worry President's border wall national emergency will set precedent

Staff writer

As the sun began to set and cars, trucks and tractor-trailers zoomed by on Monticello Avenue, about 50 protesters stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse.

On Presidents Day, protesters with Williamsburg’s liberal groups challenged President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border with Mexico — a declaration the president said was unnecessary at the time he announced it.

The national emergency calls for some military funding and other resources to be used to harden the southern border.

State Attorney General Mark Herring announced Monday evening he had joined a lawsuit to fight the national emergency proclamation. Herring joined 15 other state attorneys general.

For Navy veteran Paul Mazich, 63, of York County, the protest was in part due to the oath he took before he began a 20-year career on destroyers and frigates across the world; to support and protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

“Silence implies consent,” Mazich said before he added that Trump’s general demeanor and method of governance was harmful to American democracy.

The protest, part of a National Day of Action by the liberal organizing group MoveOn, aimed to cast the national emergency as un-American and a misuse of executive authority.

On Friday, Trump said he expected the national emergency to be mired in the judicial system, but that he would prevail when the case went to the Supreme Court.

“I’ll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office,” Trump said. “And we will have a national emergency, and then we will then be sued … And then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake.”

While a familiar refrain rang out as protesters cheered “Hey, hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go,” Air Force veteran Neva Beierle, 65, of Hampton, said she travels across the Virginia Peninsula to rally against perceived political wrongdoing by the Trump administration.

Government is not supposed to be run like a business, Beierle said.

Beierle maintains a list of protests and meetings so she can send the information to others interested in the events.

There were no counter-protesters demonstrating to support the national emergency proclamation, however some passengers passing vehicles, such as someone in a grey Toyota Camry, hollered pro-Trump messages.

For Herb Jones, the national emergency is farcical.

“We all want what’s best for America,” Jones said before he called for commonsense leadership in the nation’s and state’s capital.

“This wall here is crazy.”

Jones said the money the president looked to free up with the national emergency declaration would have been better off it was earmarked to be spent on children’s education.

Jones is seeking political office too. He said he’s working to fill out petitions to earn the Democratic nomination in the race for the 3rd Virginia Senate District currently held by Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at srobertsjr@vagazette.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette
73°