Confront Corruption vigil speakers discuss democracy, Trump administration

Matthew Bailey

Dozens of people gathered at the Old Town Square Plaza on July 18 to attend the “Confront Corruption, Demand Democracy” vigil, in which several speakers voiced their concerns on issues pertaining to the Trump administration and the state of democracy in the United States.

Taking place only two days after Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Confront Corruption vigil was just one of 200 similar vigils held in 39 different states the night of July 18, event moderator Suzanne Trask said.

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“I’m here to try to regain my balance so that I can stop reeling from outrage to outrage and get organized to move the United States in a better direction,” Trask said.

Colorado Senate member John Kefalas claps along with audience members while Confront Corruption | Demand Democracy Vigil speaker Cathy Kipp finishes her speech. (Photo by Matt Bailey | Collegian.)

Fort Collins for Progress, a nonprofit community action organization, hosted the event.

Trask began the vigil by explaining her aspirations for the United States, saying she would like to see fairer elections, a more honest democracy, more meaningful participation from all people and not just from the wealthy, and a democracy that is more responsive to the people and their needs.

“We have to demand a new democracy that truly reflects all Americans,” Trask said.

Along with Trask, musician Elizabeth Hudetz performed at the beginning and conclusion of the vigil. Additional speakers included David Trask, Cathy Kipp, Lynda Blake, Allie Holton and Kevin Reifel.

Amongst the speakers, some of the most hotly discussed issues included voter registration, voter turnout rates, political involvement and anger over policies of the Trump administration.

Kipp spoke about how to become more politically involved, telling audience members to find a candidate or an issue that best represents and reflects their issue and to vote in elections.

Voter registration booths were set up as Fort Collins residents gather for the “Fort Collins Confront Corruption | Demand Democracy Vigil” in Old Town Square Plaza. (Ashley Potts | The Collegian.)

During her speech, Blake cited several sections of author Malcolm Nance’s book “The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West,” voicing her ideas over Nance’s assertion that the United States became fundamentally dysfunctional after the election of Trump.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m angry,” Blake said. “Tonight, I am fully conscious, I’m angry and I’m informed about the devastation that is taking place in our country. I’m ready to take a stand, I’m ready to shout and I’m ready to get busy.”

Holton, a senior at Poudre High School, spoke about coming together as a country despite differences in political beliefs, opinion and party affiliation. 

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Holton said she shared her experiences as a gun owner and a victim of a school shooting scare at PHS to understand the differences in political beliefs and opinions that exist in the United States on gun ownership policies.

“We need to unite as American citizens regardless of party,” Holton said. “Whether you’re left or right, we can all see wrong.”

The hour-long vigil concluded with Hudetz performing a rendition of “We Shall Overcome” during which audience members joined her in singing the lyrics.

Collegian reporter Matthew Bailey can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Mattnes1999