They came from all over Westport, and Redding and Roxbury. There were, by some estimates, 800 of them. But crowd estimates, as we all know now, are less important than the message the crowd sends.
They were Democrats, Republicans and independents. They were moms, dads, tweens and teens, and folks who marched in the ’60s and are now beyond that age.
All 3 selectmen were there, with town officials, state legislators, and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Julia Belaga. The first President Bush appointed her regional director of the EPA, an agency that President Trump wants to scrap.
They were there for the environment, women’s rights, immigration and education. They were there against authoritarianism, murky Russian ties and the countless whack-a-mole controversies that have sprung up ever since January 20.
Westporter Susan Terry led the crowd in a rousing, singalong “Star Spangled Banner.” Car horns honked in solidarity. (One car passed by with a counter-protest. “Make America great again!” the driver shouted.)
The music included upbeat songs like the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” and protest anthems like Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.”
And when today’s “Connecticut: One Small State, One Big Voice” march from Jesup Green to Veterans Green was over — after Senators Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal, Congressman Jim Himes and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe had spoken — there was one last song.
“These boots are made for walkin’,” Nancy Sinatra sang. “And one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.”
Are you ready?
Congressman Jim Himes said that President Trump has catered to “the worst elements of extremists.” But he hasn’t succeeded, because “all over America — in unlikely states like Oklahoma and Alabama — people came together. Reasonable Republicans heard from people like you.
“People have used fear to move decent Americans behind bad instincts,” Himes added. “But this is America. We don’t do fear well. Whatever your party, stand up.
“To all the Democrats and Republicans here: You are the best of America. Thanks to you, our shared values will prevail.”
The crowd responded with a heartfelt chant: “Thank you Jim!”
Senator Dick Blumenthal told the crowd at Veterans Green: “This is what democracy looks like!” It’s because of crowds like this, he said, that Trump’s “cartoonishly incompetent” healthcare plan went down to defeat.
The Judiciary Committee member pledged to push an independent investigation of the president.
He noted that his father fled Germany for the US in 1935. He was 17, and spoke no English. “This country gave him a chance to succeed. He would be so ashamed now, to see the Statue of Liberty’s lamp extinguished.”
Senator Chris Murphy energized the crowd, saying: “There is no fear that can’t be cured by political activism.” And though he sometimes goes to bed fearing the movement will lose strength, he wakes up in the morning to find it bigger than ever.
He said that he, Blumenthal and Himes “are trying to raise our game to equal this moment. Democracy is inefficient, but no one has invented a better system yet.” However, he noted, “democracy is not inevitable. We have to keep fighting for it.”