Impeachment acquittal protest

Jim Stanford, wearing his father’s Vietnam-era U.S. Army jacket and flying an upside-down American flag, protests the U.S. Senate’s acquittal of President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Wednesday afternoon on the Town Square. “I don’t take this lightly,” said Stanford, a Jackson Town councilman. “This is a powerful symbol that the republic is in distress. Democracy is participatory and it requires all of us to keep it going.”

An American flag hung abnormally from Jim Stanford’s hands on Town Square, where he stood for more than two hours Wednesday in protest of the U.S. Senate’s vote to acquit President Trump.

“Your flag’s upside down,” a woman shouted from the window of her Suburban while stopped at a red light in Jackson’s busiest intersection. Stanford, a town councilor, told her he was aware.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because the republic is in distress,” he said.

When he heard Wednesday of the Senate vote — which marked the close of an impeachment trial that ended, as expected, with acquittal along party lines — Stanford donned his father’s Vietnam Army uniform, and a warm hat and gloves, and stepped into the freezing February afternoon.

The display drew attention from dozens of passing drivers and pedestrians. Some grasped its meaning immediately, honking or waving or giving a peace sign in agreement.

Others sneered and barked at Stanford to “turn it around.”

One displeased man driving along Cache Street in a pickup made his thoughts aggressively clear.

“I’ll turn you upside down, how ’bout that?” he said.

Stanford acknowledged his mode of expression was a “potent symbol,” but, he added, “I don’t take this lightly.”

He insisted he meant no disrespect to the country, its veterans or its iconic red, white and blue banner. He glanced down regularly to ensure the flag never touched the ground.

Rather, what he hoped to convey was the threat he senses in a nation ruled by partisan interests. Specifically, he aimed his protest at Wyoming’s U.S. senators, John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, both of whom voted to acquit the president and who earlier voted against accepting new evidence in the trial against him.

Just one Republican, Mitt Romney, of Utah, voted to convict Trump.

“I feel like our senators have not just been complicit in this,” Stanford said. “They’ve enabled it.”

His outstretched arms growing heavy after more than an hour, he carefully folded his flag to take a break. He backed away from the intersection, toward where his dog lay leashed to a post near the antler arch.

“Camille’s not too happy, either,” he said, half joking.

Though Stanford is one of the town’s five elected officials, he stressed, “I’m doing this on my own,” rather than using the Town Council pulpit to make his point.

Stanford, a former journalist and blogger, was elected to the Town Council in 2012. He works as a river guide in addition to serving on the council.

Some people he interacted with continued on unaware of his public office.

After a moment of respite, he unfurled the flag again and stepped back to the curb.

Another woman stopped at the intersection leaned out her window to inquire about the demonstration.

“Are you happy or sad the president was acquitted?” she asked.

“I’m sad,” he said. “I wish I didn’t have to be here.”

“Me too,” she said. “Thank you. Keep up the good work.”

Contact Cody Cottier at 732-5911 or town@jhnewsandguide.com.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

(10) comments

TERRENCE MILAN

According to Buckrail there was a confrontation with the police. Many of the nation's police officers would be able to wear their own Service uniforms.

Ken Chison

So, if I were to falsely accuse Mr, Stanford of being a pedophile, a drug user, a thief or anything else, and a party of his peers find it all a lie, can I protest that because it was an accusation it has to be believed? You would think the left would have learned how bad their party lies. Especially after Russia collusion and the Kavanaugh clown show.

TERRENCE MILAN

Town fool or the town councilor? Sadly the latter, OK, maybe both. Interesting dichotomy however. On one side you have an administration that cut taxes, increased employment, first wage average wage increase in decades, mortgage rates are down and just about anyone who is employable is at work. On the other side you see increased taxes, more special taxes, run away cost of living, doesn't matter what mortgage rates are here, no one can afford to buy, and wasted landed purchases. And somehow, as millions of Americans are at work, this guy finds the time on a Wednesday afternoon to dance around in his father's uniform and desecrate the flag. With such a shameful exhibition, plus his own lousy track record, he would like to see someone else impeached? A real model of success!

Jim Lewis

Good job, Mr. Sanford. I share your concerns and distress. It's incumbent on all who can vote, should vote in November, and those who are of voting age and not registered, for God's sake, get yourselves registered, get involved, and vote.

Richard Nansen

Very poor form. To impersonate a veteran, his father and a representative of his country, to push his personal agenda... is just disrespectful in so many ways. He knew exactly what he was doing. The only thing he represents, a fraud and insecure person that has to steal others identity, because he doesn’t have one. I’m not concerned about what his position is in the least. I’m very concerned that he has disrespected so much in his public display, that it defies belief. Shame on him.

Richard Nansen

Politician, unhappy, protests politicians doing unethical things in an unethical manner... while doing unethical things in an unethical manner... makes perfect sense...not!

Marion Dickinson

An acquittal has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the person is liked or likable, it has to do with committing a crime. I don't believe ticking off those with opposing viewpoints qualifies.

Bob Settle

Mr. Stanford may have 'meant no disrespect', but this is clearly disrespectful to our Flag...seems to be a lot of that going around today for whatever issue folks want to protest. That said, I gave up 28 years of my life in service to our Nation to allow him to protest. Sad that he didn't protest the thousands of hours and millions of dollars the impeachment has cost our Country.

Norman Pear

Jim Stanford is a true American patriot. The republic really is in distress when you have zero bipartisan relations, the president is given expanded powers and goes unchecked by Congress, and foreign powers are invited to interfere in our elections. The planet and its people can't handle four more years of this.

Ken Chison

So he had to wear his daddy's uniform? Sorry Jim. You are not worthy to don a heros uniform. Like the Kavanaugh debacle, the sham impeachment was nothing more than made up lies and hearsay, from a party of crybabies, like yourself. Maybe if you served, Jim, you would realize and respect our flag a little more. Our great representatives voted exactly how they should have. It's the democrats in the house that you should be mad at for letting their partisanship overrule their common sense.

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