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Rights Exercise: Rally garners large crowd during Senate retreat

By DANYEL VANREENEN

The Journal

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va.  — While Democratic senators convened for private meetings at the Bavarian Inn on Thursday, people exercised their rights of free expression to make their voices heard with a rally outside.

Protestors and supporters gather at the Bavarian Inn on Thursday to express their freedom of speech during a gathering of Democratic Party leaders in Shepherdstown.
(Photo by Danyel VanReenen)

The rally was organized overnight, according to Kate Savidan, state coordinator for the Women’s March on Washington, D.C.

The grassroots effort was organized in support of democratic leaders. Savidan said it was amazing to see what people could do when they work together.

“It doesn’t require flying or driving to Washington, D.C. to be involved,”Savidan said. “We’re expecting up to 700 people to attend this rally throughout the day.”

However, Democratic supporters were not the only attendees.

“I’m here using my rights to support my candidate,” said Nick Mantegna, who held a “Make America Great Again” sign.

Most people attending the rally held signs in support of Democratic representatives.

“I’m here to protect the Constitution and democracy,” said rally supporter Jennifer Jones. “I’m here to support the Democrats determining how to resist Trump’s agenda.”

Christine Keller had a similar reason for attending. Her sign, which encouraged government leaders to build bridges instead of walls, echoed the sentiments of others.

“I think my sign sums up everything,” Keller said.

Security would not allow the rally to take place in the Bavarian Inn parking lot, but police and security officials accommodated the large crowd.

M.L. King, chief of Shepherdstown Police, said events of this size take planning. Although the event took place on short notice, King said everything was going well.

“Everyone is having a good time and everyone is safe — that’s the most important part,” King said.

As attendees stood on the sidewalk of the bridge over the Potomac River, passing cars honked in support and dissent.

Traffic was not blocked, but limited space didn’t stop the rally from making some noise. Many attendees chanted in unison.

“Love trumps hate,” the crowd chanted. “This is what democracy looks like.”

Parents even brought their kids to the event.

“I wanted my son to see what it’s like to stand up for yourself,” Jason Murphy said.

His 7-year-old son held a sign that said, “Even I would make a better president.”

Jessie Ward brought her 4-year old and 6-month-old as well.

“It’s very impressive what people can do together,” Ward said. “I think it’s important to pass that along to kids.”

See more from The Journal

Protestors and supporters gather at the Bavarian Inn on Thursday to express their freedom of speech during a gathering of Democratic Party leaders in Shepherdstown.
(Photo by Danyel VanReenen)

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