NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — When protesters took to the city's downtown last week, their message was clear: It's time to give President Donald Trump the boot.
A few dozen people attended the rally to impeach Trump on the evening of Sept. 6, outside Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.'s office on Church Street. There, a handful of speakers urged the congressman and other leaders to push for Trump's removal from office, in between chants and the beating of a drum.
“I've been really depressed about what's going on, and I've been trying to convince people that we need to impeach the president,” Charlie Kratovil, the activist and newspaper publisher who organized the demonstration, told the crowd, “because that won't solve all our problems. But we won't be able to solve any problems with President Trump.”
The event drew a number of key figures from local and state left-wing political circles. That included Seth Kaper-Dale, who's running for governor with the Green Party; Bill Brennan, the North Jersey man who failed to nab the Democratic gubernatorial nomination after filing a complaint against Gov. Chris Christie; Larry Hamm, the head of the People's Organization for Progress; and Junior Romero, the Central New Jersey organizer for Food and Water Watch.
After a rainy afternoon, the weather held as protesters stood and listened, signs in hand.
Most of the lights in Pallone's office, meanwhile, were turned off. No staffers could be seen inside.
While Pallone drew some praise from the demonstrators, they also said he must work to remove Trump from office.
“Now, I like Congressman Pallone,” Brennan said. “He's definitely voted the way I want him to vote. But we need more than that from leadership right now.”
Neither Pallone nor his staff attended the rally. But his office sent a statement to Kratovil—which he sent, with email receipts, to TAPinto New Brunswick, confirming that it did indeed come from a Pallone staffer.
In the statement, Pallone said he supports special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the president's “many inappropriate and potentially unlawful actions” and Russia's involvement in the 2016 election.
“I have great concerns about the Trump administration's interactions with Russia and its disregard for the law,” Pallone said. “We need to gain all available information on the president's misconduct, which I believe could very well lead to impeachment.”
Even so, the New Brunswick demonstrators argued that now is the time to push forth impeachment proceedings. They noted that at least two congresspeople have already moved to make that happen.
Kaper-Dale said bureaucratic and technical issues related to Trump's campaign and business dealings might be the avenue through which impeachment can succeed.
“They are dramatic. They are big-deal things,” he said. “But they're small deal compared to what is happening to immigrant families when wives and husbands and children get separated by an ocean because somebody is trying to carry out racial and ethnic cleansing under the guise of immigration reform.”
The activists claimed that any number of Trump's prior actions have already made him susceptible to impeachment. His firing of James Comey, the former head of the FBI, on the basis that he was investigating Russian interference in the election could prove fatal to Trump's presidency, they said.
Impeachment doesn't hinge on the conviction of a crime, they said. Other presidents and officials in smaller offices have also undergone the process—some within the past couple of years, they said.
“The change has to start somewhere,” Kratovil, who has publicly advocated for Trump's impeachment for months, said. “Why not here in New Brunswick, New Jersey?”