More than 200 people gathered Thursday evening in downtown Akron to protest President Donald Trump's firing of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling it a deliberate move to undermine the special counsel investigation into possible ties between Trump's campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump fired his estranged attorney general Wednesday, the day after Democrats took the U.S. House in the midterm election, giving them the congressional authority to investigate the president. Trump named Matthew Whitaker, his chief of staff and a critic of the Russia investigation, to oversee the U.S. Justice Department, giving the president an ally in charge of the probe.

Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russia unloaded a cyberattack on the United States in 2016, accessing online voter databases (with no evidence of tampering with the vote) while stoking animosity on social media with fake accounts.

Trump has denied any involvement personally or by his campaign.


Over 200 people in downtown Akron protest Trump’s appointment of Whitaker as attorney general. @ohiodotcom pic.twitter.com/1M7ffxZCiK


— Karen SchielyABJ (@karen_schiely) November 8, 2018//
//
//
//
//
//
//

Organizers behind the local protests said they've been planning for a year, waiting for the moment when Trump “crossed a red line.” They reacted to the announcement of Sessions' forced resignation by swiftly launching the hundreds of coordinated protests, all at 5 p.m. Thursday.

In Akron, bullhorns and a sound system powered by a generator provided protesters an outsize voice. Organizers placed “marshals” on each corner of Market and Main streets to keep protesters out of the streets and crosswalks during the planned peaceful rally. Local police were present.

“There’s going to be adequate coverage, probably in the ballpark of eight to 10 officers,” Akron Lt. Rick Edwards said before the rally started.

Each of the 900 events across America was organized by MoveOn.org. The online petition and event-planning website was inundated with requests as attendees went online to sign up.


Over 200 people in downtown Akron protest Trump’s appointment of Whitaker as attorney general. @ohiodotcom pic.twitter.com/T2qjZfDE3N


— Karen SchielyABJ (@karen_schiely) November 8, 2018//
//
//
//
//
//

Andrew J. DiLiddo Jr. of Canton, who created one of the two Akron rallies collectively receiving more than 950 RSVPs (and expecting half to show up), said other MoveOn organizers said in a conference call the night before that the website’s servers had crashed from too much traffic.

“There's always been a question as to when the red line would be crossed,” DiLiddo said by phone while setting up for the rally near the John S. Seiberling Federal Building downtown. “What would Trump have to do to cross this red line?”

The event’s online description claimed that by firing Sessions, who had recused himself from steering the election-meddling probe after lying to the U.S. Senate about communicating with Russians in 2016, "Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee [Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III]'s Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. ... [W]ith just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as special counsel Robert Mueller's boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation. Whitaker has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it."