ST. GEORGE — St. George residents joined nationwide protests asking state representatives to “vote yes” to the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
Nearly 200 protestors lined both sides of St. George Boulevard outside of Rep. Chris Stewart’s Southern Utah office Tuesday night as temperatures dropped into the 30s. Stewart has previously spoken out against the impeachment hearings and in favor of the president.
Participants brandished signs with a number of sayings, but the sentiment remained the same: vote yes to the articles of impeachment. The protestors went a step further, however, adding that if the articles of impeachment are passed, they are looking for the Senate to issue an indictment for conviction.
Michelle Peot, a member of the Washington County Democratic Party of Utah, organized the event to show local support during a national movement to persuade representatives to vote for the impeachment of the president.
Peot told St. George News there are a number of reasons why she and many others believe the president should be impeached, but one of the biggest is his alleged abuse of executive power, violation of the title of nobility clause under the United States Constitution, and recent actions that have obstructed Congress as they investigate claims made against him.
There had been a pending impeachment rally based on when the House of Representatives was set to vote on the articles, but that date was up in the air. Peot said when she realized there wouldn’t be a local event, she jumped into action, putting the event together in a matter of days, feeling that it was important for Southern Utah to be involved.
“I feel like we’re at a turning point in our democracy right now, and it was really important that Southern Utah speak out,” she said.
Living in a traditionally Republican state, Peot said residents with opposing viewpoints often band together to create their own community and network of support. Unlike other, more Democratic states, she said, the demographic of the protestors in the area is older residents.
Leading up to the event, Peot said she had not heard anything about potential counter protests, and in previous rallies she’s attended there has been little, if any, opposition.
“I think people are fairly respectful here,” she said. “We have a no-violence, no-harassment rule within our own group, so I don’t expect to see it.”
St. George resident Ty Empey joined the protest as the dissenting opinion, hopping into a group of protestors with “Trump 2020” written in green marker across poster board. Empey told St. George News he decided to attend the protest to give a different perspective and start a constructive conversation.
The president has done a lot of good for the country, he said, by imposing tariffs that have positively impacted the economy, for example. The impeachment process is not legitimate, Empey argued, and citizens and lawmakers backing its approval are wasting resources.
Overall, he said, he would like to see the same people calling for Trump’s impeachment to focus on more important and relevant battles, such as the opioid crisis, adding that — as someone who works with people struggling with addiction — resources are being held up as more and more attention is placed on the impeachment proceedings.
“I love everybody,” Empey said. “I love all these people. I’m just out here having fun.”
Tuesday evening the House Rules Committee announced there will be six hours of debate Wednesday regarding the impeachment inquiry, but Republican lawmakers have put forward an amendment to extend that time to 12 hours.
If impeachment efforts are successful, Trump would be the third president in American history to be impeached.
“I think it’s really important for people to be engaged in this moment,” Peot said. “This could determine what happens with our democracy. … It’s important that people understand the gravity of the situation. No one is above the law.”
Trump stands accused of pressuring Ukrainian officials to release potentially damaging information on Joe Biden, who is a main contender for the 2020 presidential election, and his son Hunter, by withholding military aid. Following weeks of debate, the House Judiciary Committee passed formal impeachment charges on Dec. 13.
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