Hundreds of people gathered in front of the White House this Thursday calling on President Biden to take a tougher stance on Russia, a day after Russia launched a military assault on Ukraine. Roanoke College students participating in the Washington Semester participated in the pro-Ukraine protest.
Junior Michaela Johnson attended the protest feeling close to the cause because her brother-in-law is from Ukraine. Johnson said, “It was really good to see people from all backgrounds, not just Ukrainians, care so much and take time out of their day to protest. Ukraine is often overlooked so the media attention is really good and I hope they keep it up.”
Protestors held signs saying, “protect Ukrainian skies”, “freedom is under attack”, and “Ukraine today, Europe tomorrow” amongst others. Two little girls proudly presented signs stating, “I love Ukraine”. Chants wrang through Lafayette Square of “US with Ukraine” and “stronger sanctions on Russia”. At one point the crowd broke out in song, singing the Ukrainian national anthem. The overall feeling in front of the White House was that of solidarity for Ukraine in this time of Russian aggression.
The leader of the protest encouraged attendees not to give up on Ukraine once they got home. He asked everyone to tell their friends to write to Congress and the White House to demand assistance to Ukraine and stronger sanctions on Russia. The leader concluded the protest with words of encouragement stating, “You are in power to educate yourselves, your neighbors, your co-workers, and those around you on what is happening.”
Michaela had similar sentiments saying, “A lot of people don’t educate themselves on issues in eastern Europe, such as Ukraine or Belarus, people are starting to educate themselves and it shouldn’t stop at just Ukrainian issues.”