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  • Megann Horstead

Rally in Morris brings out residents for, against Trump

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Groups of demonstrators took to the streets of Morris over the weekend, saying they were there fighting for democracy.

The Feb. 15 demonstration was staged by one group in response to President Donald Trump and his involvement in a U.S. Department of Justice case that reportedly prompted several officials to quit in protest.

Morris resident Pete Bastounes stood at the corner of U.S. Route 6 and Illinois Route 47, hoisting a sign in the air. He said he felt compelled to take a stand in support of the cause.

“Right now, I think our democracy is under attack, and I think that’s evidenced by what Trump’s done with the justice department just recently,” Bastounes said.

Bastounes said it’s a shame to “see the degradation of our democracy going on right in front of our eyes slowly.”

“The lack of continuity with the AG and the president is disturbing,” he said. “He’s giving the impression that he’s working for Trump.”

Marseilles resident Heidi Henry said it’s important to fight for democracy.

“We can’t have a fascist USA,” she said.

Henry pointed the blame at the president and the U.S. Senate.

“We can’t belittle people because of the color of their skin, where they came from, their religious beliefs,” she said. “Right now, if you’re not white and male for the most part, you have no rights in this country. The Republican Party has crowned Trump king of the USA. We’re in desperate, desperate times right now. We can’t hold him accountable for treason. There’s no limit to what he can do.”

Among those counter protesting was Joliet resident Brandon Harris. He said he felt compelled to rally in Morris because “we’ve got a lot of Republican support down here.”

Harris said he takes issue with the premise behind the other side’s demonstration.

“I don’t feel like they’re saving democracy, I feel like they’re trying to throw it out the window,” he said. “The other side’s main [presidential] candidate to elect is Bernie Sanders. You look at any one of his numerous policies he’s trying to propose, it’s all socialist. I don’t think that’s what we want as a democracy.”

Philip Juarez, the Illinois director of Freedom Movement, said it’s important to show support for Trump and the Republican Party.

“We’re here with our arms open,” he said. “I know we have some opposition across the street, but we’re not here to cause trouble. We’re just here to let the world know that we support our president [and] that again, we’re a non-violent organization.”

Bastounes said the sight of the counter protestors did not bother him.

“That’s a first amendment right,” he said. “They have every right to do that. I don’t agree with them, but that’s OK. That’s what makes this country great.”

Henry agreed.

“They show up in military vehicles, and they try to intimidate people,” she said, referring to the counter protestors. “We’re not intimidated by them at all.”

Harris wanted to be clear why the military vehicle was parked near the demonstration.

“I brought it out as a way to signify where we’re standing because we stand with our military,” he said. “We’re standing across the street from people who are doing everything they can to throw what these guys have fought for out the window.”

Juarez said the counter protestors merely wanted their views to be made known.

“We struggle with the local media here too,” he said. “The base of our organization is in Will County, and Will County is primarily a Democratic county. We struggle with the local media over there too, so it’s not just a national-level thing. It’s also a local issue we’re dealing with here. We want to be heard.”

Bastounes said he’s pleased by the turnout for the demonstration.

“When it’s cold out like that, it’s not easy to come out here,” he said. “You see gentleman here with a walker. You see another guy over here with a cane. That means something. It means something to them. That’s why they’re out here. It’s important.”

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