Protesters rallied in two North Shore locations this past weekend, to demonstrate their First Amendment right to protest.
Nearly 100 people stood on the corner of Route 25A and Bennetts Road in Setauket on Saturday holding signs urging that President Donald Trump (R) be impeached. For the last 18 years, the North Country Peace Group has stood on the bend, every weekend, to protest.
This year was different.
“I’m going on 79 years, and I’ve seen a good chunk of American history,” said protester Jerry Shor. “I’m really sad this happened to our government, which I owe a lot to … We have tremendous respect for our government.”
And although Shor said he doesn’t always agree with what the government does, he knew he had to exercise his right to demonstrate, protest and make his feelings known.
In response to the storming of the United States Capitol Wednesday, Jan. 6, members of the group wanted to make their voices heard — their anger at the president for inciting violence, and their urge to remove Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) from Congress.
“I usually don’t come out, but today seemed like a day we had to because of what happened in Washington on Wednesday,” said protester Bob Keeler. “And Lee Zeldin, who supposedly represents us in the Congress, is not representing me very well. It’s time for him to be a former congressman.”
Normally the corner has a large group of counter-protesters — known as the North Country Patriots — across the way. This weekend there was only a small group of five.
“The real patriots are the ones who are voicing their opinions the way our forefathers really meant to be voiced,” Shor said.
Protester Paige Pearson said she had a bad feeling that something was going to happen Jan. 6.
“My immediate thought was I wasn’t surprised,” she said. “But I’m extremely disappointed.”
Pearson said she was disheartened to see what was happening in Washington D.C., especially when she previously participated in other protests that were peaceful and civil.
“We’ve been fighting for months and months, trying to stay as peaceful as possible,” she said. “And then all of these people can just storm into the Capitol, and cause all of this violence and destruction, and get out clean and unharmed.”
At the same time, at Resistance Corner on Routes 347 and 112 in Port Jefferson Station, a smaller, but just as loud group rallied against the president.
Organizers of the Friends for Justice group Holly Fils-Aime said the protesters chose to stand at the corner of Nesconset Highway because nearly 3,000 cars pass every hour.
“Obviously we were very upset when Trump claimed election fraud,” she said.
With the riots down south, Fils-Aime said she and her group are calling for the president to be impeached.
Holding signs of Trump’s face on a peach, the group voiced their hopes that Congress will vote to remove the president from power.
“I can’t believe this is happening to our country,” Fils-Aime said. “He’s been talking about this for months. … We need to get him out of office, so he can’t do this again.”