Marchers rally for freedom of press

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Sterling Heights

Elyse Kitrakisof Southfield protests with Metro-Detroit Political Action Network to support the media against fake news claims by the president.

— It appears the news does matter, at least to some people who marched in support of a free press Sunday.

About 220 people rallied for newspapers and other news media to “protect” the First Amendment under the administration of President Donald Trump.

Demonstrators outside the printing plant of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press on Mound Road carried placards that read “Democracy Dies Without a Free Press” and “The only security of all is a Free Press — Thomas Jefferson,” and chanted “This is what democracy looks like.”

Kent and Cindy Wethy of Holland said they felt compelled to show up.

Kent Wethy carried a colorful sign that read “Truth is Not Fake News.” He said the First Amendment, which provides for constitutional guarantees of free speech and a free press among other guarantees including freedom of religion and assembly, is under attack by the current White House administration.

“I didn’t think we would have to protest for (First Amendment rights)” said Kent Wethy. “Suppression of news is the first sign of a fascist government.”

Cindy Wethy, who carried a sign that said “Don’t Bully the Press” on one side and “There is a good reason why it was the 1st Amendment” on the other, said: “You can’t invent the truth. It is the sign of a tyrant. (Trump) is trying to tell us what’s the truth.”

Sue Willers of Royal Oak said she came out for the Sunday rally because she also fears freedom of the press is being threatened under Trump. “This is a free country. We need a free press ... .”

Trump has assailed the press for what he calls “fake news” and the “dishonest media” and the use of unidentified sources. His attacks energized crowds during his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference and a recent rally. He has taken to calling the press “the opposition party” and “enemy of the people.”

Trump himself has disseminated information via his Twitter feed and in speeches that he’s attributed to unnamed people. Infamously, he tweeted in August 2012 that “an extremely credible source’” had told him former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was “a fraud,” a false claim.

Elyse Kitrakis said she was thrown by the tone of the White House when dealing with or talking about the press.

Cam Mannino protests with Metro-Detroit Political Action Network to support the media against fake news claims by President Donald Trump.

“I’m just appalled at everything coming out,” she said. “The ‘Freedom of the Press’ is essential to keep truth out there.”

Adriene Avripas of Metro-Detroit Political Action Network who helped organize the rally said freedom of speech is not to be restrained in a free nation. The group is a grassroots organization that has organized other demonstrations and rallies to voice its opposition to some of Trump’s executive orders including the White House travel ban, commonly referred to as the “Muslim ban.” Metro-Detroit Political Action Network helped organize rallies in Hamtramck and at Detroit Metro Airport on Jan. 29 opposing the ban.

Avripas said the rally at The News and Free Press printing plant was set there because the plant is a symbol of news organizations in Detroit and across the country.

“We feel freedom of speech is important so we organized this,” said Avripas. She said her group is planning more rallies next month.

Kelly Lett, who also helped to bring event participants together, said “it’s important for the press to know they have people on their side still.”

Kelly said she was concerned after some news outlets were reportedly locked out of a White House news briefing Friday.

“Our forefathers fought to put in our Constitution the freedom of the press, which is the bedrock of a real democracy,” said Lett.

The Associated Press and Bloomberg contributed to this report.