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Cardboard coffin from the public demonstration in front of the Johnson County Courthouse on January 20, 2001.

…What possesses anyone to publicly speak out in dissent?

It started for me after December 12, 2000 when the United States Supreme Court appointed an occupant to the White House in a decision so blatantly partisan even they wouldn’t allow it as precedent.  A coup.  Not a polite way of putting it, but accurate.

Even then, new to the idea of public dissent and so unsure of how to do this, it wasn’t until the day of the inauguration on January 20, 2001 that I organized my first public protest.

I quietly spread the word to other potential activists.  On that bitterly cold day we set up a picket line in front of the county courthouse with everyone dressed in black and carrying signs [and a cardboard coffin emblazoned with the legend: “democracy”] in our “funeral for democracy.”  We numbered thirty-eight people and one dog.  It caused something of a stir, but better still, it served to make us all feel like we were doing something positive by expressing our disdain…

It’s been a long eight years. Unlike eight years ago I don’t think I’ll be actively participating in any activities marking the day. The damages done to our nation, our Constitution, the world, and to the concept of rule of law have been too severe.

Signs from the public demonstration in front of the Johnson County Courthouse, January 20, 2001.

For me the day will be one of reflection and mourning for what could have been. It will be a long and difficult journey back for every one of us.