By John Ruch
Hundreds of protesters marched from Midtown to Buckhead on Feb. 20, calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Dubbed the “imPEACH NOW! (Not My) President’s Day March,” the protest was one of the many organized around the country by liberal activist groups. The Atlanta version was organized on social media by a group called Democracy Spring Georgia, a metro Atlanta chapter of a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan organization that formed last year. “Not My President” has been a popular slogan among Trump opponents since his election in November.
Protest marches are typically held in Downtown, but Buckhead has now attracted at least four such demonstrations in the past seven months. Protesters have said they target Buckhead as a wealthy political power and shopping destination, and that attracted Democracy Spring Georgia, too. Dana Bowers, the group’s operations director, said her group came to Buckhead because “it’s the financial center of Atlanta” and the role of corporate money in politics is the organization’s original focus. Bowers said she participated in a massive Black Lives Matter protest in the neighborhood last summer.
For the anti-Trump event, about 200 protesters marched from Midtown’s Arts Center MARTA Station to the Lenox Square Mall in Buckhead. They carried signs with such slogans as, “Not My President,” “Stop Trump/Pence Fascist Regime” and “Impeach Now!” Some signs used profanity to insult the president.
While presidential impeachment involves specific criminal charges brought by Congress, the protest appeared to be aimed more at general criticism of Trump’s policies and fitness for office. Some protesters referred to the controversy about Trump’s political and business contacts with the Russian government and officials, and Trump’s bashing of the media. Others carried signs supporting the Affordable Care Act and federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
Bowers said her group also was motivated by Trump’s controversial temporary ban on immigration from several Middle East and African countries and his criticism of Congressman John Lewis, who is an icon of Atlanta’s Civil Rights movement history.
“The attack on John Lewis was a hot mess,” Bowers said.
The Georgia chapter of Democracy Spring formed in August 2016 and remains a nonpartisan group focused on getting “money out of politics,” Bowers said. But, she added, since Trump’s election, the group’s activities have pivoted to joining two main efforts: opposing Trump’s political agenda and electing U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a progressive and one of Congress’s two Muslim members, as chairperson of the Democratic National Party in a vote to be held in Atlanta this weekend.
Democracy Spring Georgia has yet to formally incorporate, Bowers said, but has enrolled about 950 members—more than 300 of whom signed up the day of the protest. The group is already allying with existing organizations. One is the New Georgia Project, a group founded by Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams that aims to register minority voters. Bowers said her group is also looking for ways to work with the newly announced Perimeter Progressives, a political group formed by Dunwoody resident Joe Seconder.
Democracy Spring plans further demonstrations and protests, including outside a Feb. 28 fundraiser at the Georgia World Congress Center that U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson reportedly will attend. A protest announcement criticizes Isakson for supporting Trump’s appointees and agenda. Bowers, a Gwinnett County resident who also performs as a stand-up comedian, said her group wanted to add a sense of humor to that protest and will wear costumes to re-enact a scene from the TV show “Game of Thrones.” The scene involves a disgraced queen forced to make a nude “walk of atonement” while robed priests ring bells and passers-by shout, “Shame!”
“We’ve adopted the shame campaign,” Bowers said. “We’re trying to add a little performance art to our campaign.”
Buckhead may see more Democracy Spring Georgia protests, too, Bowers said, citing Georgia’s other U.S. senator.
“David Perdue could end up being another march for us,” she said.