BUCKHANNON — Bolstered by recent news coverage, Upshur County’s March for Truth included more than two dozen people who held signs and chanted messages opposing President Donald Trump’s recent actions.
Last week, a PBS published an article called “A women’s movement grows in ‘the most Trumpian place in America.’” The piece focused on a group of Buckhannon women who have come together after the election and launched a resistance movement, holding marches, protests, town halls and informational sessions.
A PBS news feature about the group was also broadcast on television.
Local groups, including Mountaineer Voices for Change and Upshur Indivisible, continue to meet and haven’t backed down.
Saturday’s March for Truth was part of a national event to demand answers about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Upshur County resident Lisa Hollen was among the marchers.
“Our main goal is that we want an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether Donald Trump or his associates played a role,” Hollen said. “Americans all across the country are peacefully assembling and exercising our First Amendment right. We want to show the president and the media and the rest of the world that we want an independent, impartial investigation.”
Indivisible groups from nearby counties came over for Saturday’s planned hour-long demonstration in front of the Upshur County Courthouse, and Hollen credited the reach of the PBS article for some of the turnout.
“I do think that the PBS article and the coverage for Buckhannon has gotten people to come out here,” she said.
Hollen’s daughter, Sydney Hosfeld, said, “I am here because I want an investigation for Trump and the election. I don’t trust some of the things he has done. I don’t trust the fact that he is firing people who are supposed to be keeping him in check. I would like to see him held accountable for his actions.”
A recent activist event at the courthouse in response to U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito speaking at B-UHS’s graduation drew only a handful of people. By comparison, Saturday’s group was large and loud, chanting that Donald Trump needed to leave the office.
“I am very pleasantly surprised,” Hosfeld said. “It’s kind of up in the air of how many people are going to show up, but this crowd that we have here is really inspiring. It sends a good message I think that we have a strong following even in the very red area we live in.”
Her mother’s story is a large part of the PBS article, which depicts how Hollen became motivated to get involved politically after the election.
“My mom was heavily featured in that article,” Hosfeld said. “She has received so many kind messages from all across the country, from people who are really glad to see that such a strong undercurrent of justice exists in such a predominately Republican area.
Edwina Howard-Jack was standing nearby with her own sign.
“It’s been overwhelming,” she said of the attention the women have received in the wake of the PBS feature. “There have been hundreds and hundreds of messages, so many I haven’t been able to read them all yet. We have had so much support from all across the United States, from people wanting to give support, resources and materials, and donations. People are just lending their support through their words, and other organizations want to join us and want to come here for marches.
Howard-Jack said she thought the renewed media attention was an energizer going into Saturday’s event.
“I think that is a big part of it,” she said. “I think it helps to remobilize this community and I think it will help our membership... There are people here I don’t even know, who just joined us. Some people were driving by and said ‘Hey, we want to join you, where do we park?”
Jaime Henriquez came from Canaan Valley to join the march.
“I’m tired of the lies,” Henriquez said. “I’m tired of all the diplomacy. I just came back from Europe, and everyone there is laughing at us. We are a joke. Trump is not believable. His stand on the Paris Accord is ridiculous. He is saying they have set standards for us. Nobody set the standards for us. The United States set the standards for us. He could lower them; he could raise them. One hundred and 90 countries have come together for the first time, and he takes us out for no reason except for his own ego and that he wants to snub his nose at the rest of the world.
“I’m sorry; we don’t need that. This is not acceptable. Life is hard. Be decent; be honest. We all deserve that, and I don’t think he is treating us that way.”
Henriquez said he had been to Buckhannon for the town hall meeting and also came to the women’s march.
“I’ve never marched before,” he said. “This is the first time I have ever felt the need. We are facing an incredible challenge here, that if we don’t stand up and fight back, this country is going to step backwards.”
Henriquez said when he read the part in the PBS article that detailed how the women in Buckhannon were facing opposition, he felt he needed to come out on Saturday, even with short notice.
“I saw [the article] this morning and truthfully that made me get up, get off my butt and come out here today,” he said. “It was an excellent article and I am ashamed that the women here are being treated that way. I had to support them. I’m just sorry that I didn’t know earlier or I would have brought more people from Canaan Valley.”