The City of Saline was one of more than 1,000 cities that saw protests Thursday evening after US Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at the request of President Donald Trump.
Protestors stood on Maple Road, across from the court house, where they waved signs and demanded the protection of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Protestors chanted “No One Is Above the Law,” and “Protect Mueller” as evening commuters drove by, several of whom honked in support.
Ann Arbor resident and University of Michigan Professor Sam Bagenstos told the crowd that the US was head toward a constitutional crisis after Trump bypassed Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and appointed Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General. Rosenstein is seen as a defender of Mueller’s investigation, while Whitaker has written several columns criticizing the investigation.
“This country has been in a slow motion Constitutional crisis and just yesterday that crisis accelerated. We could be headed to a very, very dark place, very, very quickly,” Bagenstos told the crowd.
Bagenstos listed several concerns. He said one principle of the constitution is that no one is above the law.
The second issue, he said was the legality of appointing Whitaker instead of Rosenstein.
“We have in our Constitution a system that provides a check on the President deciding who runs cabinet departments, which is that the Senate has to confirm,” Bagenstos said. “The usual order is that if you fire the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, who someone who is also confirmed by the Senate, becomes (The AG). The reason the President doesn’t want to do that is because (Rosenstein) has been supervising the Mueller investigation and has not been shutting it down.”
Whitaker, who was Sessions’ chief of staff, was not confirmed by the Senate.
About 35 people attended the protest, which took place under the watchful eye of the Saline Police Department. There were no incidents. The protest was supported by local groups Stronger Together and Saline Indivisible.
One of the protesters was Chris Kochmanski, who lives in Lodi Township. He believes the Mueller investigation must be completed without interference.
“We need to protect the integrity of our elections, Politicians are for the people, not for themselves. If politicians suppress votes, if they work with outside parties to affect elections and change the will of the people, that's a very dangerous thing. That's more than unethical, it's potentially even treasonous,” Kochmanski said.
Political protests are rare in Saline. From time to time, one or two people protest the Federal Reserve and banking system from time to time at the post office. The UAW protested in front of the plant on Michigan Avenue during the transition from ACH to Faurecia.
But protests like the one on Maple Road are rare for a small “bedroom” community like Saline. Last March, when students protested gun violence after the Parkland mass shooting, Saline school officials worked to keep the protest quiet.
Kochmanski agreed that protests aren’t just for big cities anymore.
“There are a lot of people across the country who are very concerned with what is going on,” he said.
For the most part, passersby who publicly reacted did so positive, honking horns. At least one person drove by and yelled something derogatory.