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Jackson Leads Rally Outside Capitol

Photo shows participants in demonstration.
Several thousand attended rally on west steps of Capitol. (By LaJuan Payton - washingtonpost.com)

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  • By John P. Martin
    Washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
    Thursday, December 17, 1998

    Several thousand people praying, cheering and hoping to derail an impeachment process that many believed is unstoppable gathered Thursday morning at the Capitol for a rally organized by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

    In a cold, brisk wind, protesters carrying signs and banners supporting President Clinton filled the steps on the west side of the Capitol. Organizers, who also included labor and other groups, had hoped to draw about 5,000 people. They attributed the smaller turnout to the delay in the start of the congressional impeachment debate caused by the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. Still, Clinton supporters came on buses from up and down the East Coast.

    Melody Higgins, a research nurse, said she drove from Columbia, Md., to deliver Congress a message, but believed impeachment advocates were not listening. "They're not," said Higgins, who was attending her first political rally. "They've already said they're not."

    Photo shows participants in demonstration.
    Protesters listen to speakers at Capitol. (By Reginald A. Pearman Jr. - washingtonpost.com)
    A parade of Democratic members of Congress, celebrities, ministers and Clinton supporters began speaking shortly after 10 a.m. They were expected to continue until about 2 p.m. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) led the crowd in a chant of "Shame, shame, shame," and Rev. Al Sharpton of New York followed with his own mantra, "Enough is enough! Enough is enough!" Jackson began his address to the rally shortly before noon.

    Speaking for nearly 20 minutes, he called for a "sense of proportional justice" for Clinton, and for a "consideration of the opinion of the public" by Congress. He said the American people spoke on the impeachment issue at the polls on Nov. 3, when they surprised many political observers with their support for Democratic candidates.

    "Frankly, we thought that was enough," Jackson said.

    He led the crowd in a chant of "Reprimand, not impeachment."

    Photo shows Jackson.
    Jesse Jackson addresses the rally. (By Reginald A. Pearman Jr. - washingtonpost.com)
    Many spectators looked down from the plaza above the Capitol steps. Others came by to take pictures of the Capitol Christmas tree on the lawn.

    Two protesters, Kristen Kennedy and Zina Gray, said they used vacation days from their jobs at the National Cathedral to attend this, their first political rally. Both were steadfast in their defense of the president.

    "I know why he lied," Kennedy said. "He lied to protect his family."


    © Copyright The Washington Post

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