From Boston Common to the French Quarter in New Orleans, a series of protests reverberated across the US on Tuesday evening to call for President Donald Trump's removal from office, a prelude to momentous impeachment votes set for Wednesday in the House of Representatives.
In Philadelphia city centre, a group of demonstrators held up signs with LED lights spelling out IMPEACH at the base of a bronze statute called "Government of the People," while Times Square in New York teemed with protesters chanting, "No one's above the law."
In Marshall Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, about 200 pro-impeachment demonstrators recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang America the Beautiful.
Among them were Kendrick Frazier (49) and his husband, Vincent Archie (59). "I'm here because our democracy is at risk," Frazier said. "The rule of law has been thrown to the wayside. And people think that you have this personal thing against Donald Trump, and there have been lots of Republican presidents, but they acted like presidents. They didn't act like, I'm sorry, but criminals."
A coalition of liberal groups including MoveOn.org and Indivisible organised hundreds of demonstrations, which incorporated many of the same elements as the yearly women's marches that have been held since Trump's election in 2016. The hashtags #impeachmenteve and #notabovethelaw trended on Twitter.
In Tucson, Arizona, several hundred activists who support impeachment flocked to the front of the federal courthouse, where they were greeted by the sound of honking horns from rush-hour traffic. "This is not a partisan issue," said Dr Eve Shapiro (67), a local paediatrician who favours impeachment. "Congress has made it one, but that's what's happening to our country. For us today, it's about a president who obstructed justice. That's not partisan."
On the other side of Congress Street, a smaller faction of Trump loyalists in their ubiquitous red caps mounted a counterprotest. There were duelling chants of “lock him up” and “four more years”.
Chris King, a retired military officer and vice chairman of the Pima County Republican Party, held an American flag and spoke sarcastically about the looming impeachment vote. "I won't let them spoil my morning coffee," he said. "I don't let their hate get to me."
Another Trump supporter, who declined to give her name, expressed her disdain for House Democrats. “They should take away their law degrees,” she said.
The rallies came on the eve of a set of votes by the full House on two articles of impeachment against Trump. The first article charges Trump with abuse of power, stemming from the president's attempts to get Ukraine to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden in return for foreign aid.
The second article charges the president with obstruction of Congress for blocking testimony and refusing to provide documents to lawmakers as part of the impeachment inquiry.
In Times Square, the demonstrators unfurled a giant banner with Article II, Section 4, of the US constitution, which deals with impeachment, printed on it. They marched with the banner downtown toward Union Square.
Erica Bruce, an interior designer who lives in New York, held up a gavel, made of garbage and paper, with the words “Impeach Trump” on it. The impeachment proceedings, she said, should serve as a wake-up call to voters. “I think that what happens tomorrow is going to solidify for a lot of people whether their representatives are acting on behalf of their constituents or themselves,” she said.
In Wisconsin, a battleground state that Trump won in 2016, backers of Trump's impeachment descended on the steps of the state capitol in Madison. They stamped their feet to revive frozen toes in 20-degree weather while listening to the Raging Grannies, a political activist singing group. A bullhorn and a microphone didn't work, forcing speakers to shout to the crowd of about 200 people.
Bill Kilgour (87), said it was the duty of Congress to keep Trump in check. “If a friend was drunk and they wanted to drive, wouldn’t you have a responsibility to take the keys?” he said. “That’s what impeachment is doing – taking the keys away from this guy who can do much more damage than he already has.”
Chris Taylor (51), a Democratic state legislator from Madison, acknowledged the polarised political climate. "We're a very divided state," he said. "We have such a strong tradition of clean government in our state. People don't want a president forged by the legislature, doing pay-for-play politics. And that's what this is."
The votes on impeachment are expected to play out along party lines in the House, which Democrats flipped back to their control in the 2018 midterm elections. Trump would become the third president impeached by the House, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, facing an almost certain impeachment for the Watergate scandal.
No president has ever been convicted by the Senate and removed from office. It would take 67 of 100 senators to convict Trump in an impeachment trial, which is expected to take place early next year in the Republican-controlled chamber. – New York Times