On a chilly Friday evening, Duxbury resident Ames Robb erected a series of homemade signs along the Route 2-100 roundabout in Waterbury. Holding a sign that read “Justice for Khashoggi,” Robb waved at passing drivers, receiving some waves and honks of approval.
Robb’s efforts — and those of the people who typically join her three times a week to hold political signs at the roundabout — are part of a national movement called Stand on Every Corner, which urges people across the country to take to local street corners and make their voices heard.
“I feel like it’s a really good opportunity to get out of the social media bubble and get a message out to people in your own community,” said Robb, whose most recent sign called for justice for Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed Oct. 2 at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
“It’s sort of the opposite of preaching to the choir. You don’t know who you’ll impact when you stand out here like this,” she said.
Friday marked the 44th time in recent months that Robb has taken to the Waterbury roundabout to voice her political thoughts. Her first sign — which stood near her — reads, “It’s time to stand up for democracy.”
“I’m hoping to make people think. I’m hoping that people who feel the same way as I do know that they’re not alone and I’m hoping to reach people who haven’t made up their minds to feel a different way,” said Robb, whose other signs include a call for people to “vote blue” to protect health care, another to stop the separation of migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, and one that simply reads “Vote.”
“In these last couple of weeks leading up to the election, I really want people to get out there and vote and exercise their civic responsibility,” Robb said.
Public reaction varies from driver to driver. Most look and do nothing. Some honk, while others wave. Robb, whose day job is to oversee USDA nutritional programs such as SNAP and school lunches, said the negative reactions she receives are few but fierce.
“We don’t get a ton of negative responses, but the responses we do get are strong,” Robb said. “People flip us off and yell things out the window. We had a gun flashed at us once.”
Stand on Every Corner was launched by one person, Minneapolis resident Bryce Tache, who took to his neighborhood park on June 20 with a sign calling for the end of the Trump administration’s practice of splitting up migrant families.
According to the movement’s official webpage, “this movement isn’t about left vs. right. Or blue vs. red. It’s about right vs. wrong.”
The Waterbury location is the only one in the state listed on the website.
This corner is blue
While the national movement claims no political affiliation, on Friday night in Waterbury, the signs were entirely left-leaning.
Would Robb and others welcome someone with a pro-Trump sign?
“I wouldn’t be great with it, but they’ve got as much right to be here as we do,” Robb said. “If it happened tonight, I might move across the street. It depends how much interaction they were hoping to have, I guess.”
Going forward, Robb said she and her colleagues would continue to show up three times a week until elections Nov. 6, and most likely afterward.
“I expect things to go crazy after the elections, no matter what happens,” Robb said. “Through the winter, we might come out once a week. We may come out here situationally.”
In the immediate future, Robb has one goal she hopes her actions will help to achieve.
“I really hope people will vote,” she said. “I believe this is a critical time for our country and our democracy, and I know that can sound alarmist, but I really believe it’s important to stand up now.”