Congressman’s impeachment resolution spurs Valley rallies, pro and con

July 19, 2017
About 40 people rallied outside Rep. Brad Sherman’s office July 13, calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Photo by Gabriella Kamran

day after Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) became the first member of Congress to file formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice, around 40 demonstrators gathered in support on the sidewalk outside his Sherman Oaks office.

The July 13 rally was the fifth in a series of pro-impeachment demonstrations at Sherman’s office organized by Rachel Rosen, a health educator and San Fernando Valley resident who is the daughter of the local Anti-Defamation League’s senior associate director Alison Mayersohn.

Participants blasted rock music, waved handmade signs with slogans such as “Nyet Normal” and chanted, “He lies, he cheats, Donald Trump must be impeached!” One demonstrator dressed as the Statue of Liberty, and another wore a Russian general’s costume and mimicked Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose nation is suspected of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Several police officers stood on the sidelines, while a group of about 20 Trump supporters gathered for a counterprotest across the street.

Sherman is the first member of Congress to file formal articles of impeachment against the president. He and co-sponsor Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) introduced the measure, HR 438, on the House floor July 12. It points to the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, suggesting it was an attempt to influence investigations into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the presidential campaign.

“There are often demonstrations outside my office, but one thing’s unusual here — rarely are they ‘Thank You, Brad’ demonstrations,” Sherman said in a statement about the rally. “Usually there’s ‘Blank You, Brad” demonstrations. It’s nice to know that people are turning out.”

Sherman encouraged the rally’s participants to contribute their energy and passion to a voter drive currently underway in the 25th congressional district in northern Los Angeles.

“I need the support of more Democratic colleagues — especially pro-Israel ones,” said Sherman, who is Jewish.

Rosen said the goal of the protests is to express gratitude for Sherman’s efforts and to pressure members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to join his call for impeachment.

The working mother of two said she got involved in activism after Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20. She attended the Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles and the protests of Trump’s travel ban at Los Angeles International Airport but was looking for demonstrations closer to home.

“There are a lot of [anti-Trump] resistance groups in the Valley,” Rosen said. “I thought, ‘Why are we driving all the way to downtown L.A.?’ ”

Rosen said she chose Sherman’s district office as the location for her rallies after Sherman announced at a June 7 press conference his intention to draft articles of impeachment. She said about 20 people showed up to the first rally on June 15, which she promoted primarily through the Facebook pages of local resistance groups such as West Valley Resistance and Indivisible.

Rosen also spoke at the July 2 Impeachment March in downtown L.A. about the power of grass-roots activists to make a difference.

Alison Davies, a West Hills resident who donned the Lady Liberty costume, said she focuses on positive reinforcement for California legislators because, like Sherman, many of them are progressive and already are doing what she hopes elected officials would do.

“There is a vocal few out there who are giving Brad Sherman a lot of hate,” Davies said. “We want to show that the majority of us support what he’s doing.”

Arianna Villavicencio, an 11-year-old participant in the rally, said she thinks protesting is important because it helps people realize something must change.

“My dad didn’t make me come here. I chose to be here,” Villavicencio said. “Even though I’m only 11, I believe I should stand up for my rights.”

Across the street, Torrance resident Arthur Schaper brought a megaphone and a Make America Great Again cap to the counterprotest. He said Sherman is a disgrace to the district and called HR 438 a treasonous attempt to undermine the president.

“How can [Sherman] represent people when he spends most of his time pushing ridiculous resolutions?” Schaper said.

In a letter to fellow congressmembers circulated in early June, Sherman said the national interest requires Congress to call for Trump’s impeachment and asked for his colleagues’ “counsel, input and support,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Articles of Impeachment will not pass the House in the near future,” Sherman said in a recent statement to the Times. “But given the risk posed to the Republic, we should move things forward as quickly as possible.”

Rosen said she is unfazed by the long road ahead for Sherman’s impeachment attempt, adding that people once thought civil rights or women’s suffrage were impossible goals.

“I think [calling for impeachment] is the right thing to do,” Rosen said. “If other people don’t want to do the right thing — which is the majority of Congress — then they’ll be on the wrong side of history. I’m going to be on the side that did something about it.”

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