By all accounts, the mass upsurge that has emerged since the election of the ultra-right-wing billionaire Donald Trump has been unprecedented for a new president. The naked racism, misogyny, xenophobia and militarism that mark Trumpís agenda has awakened millions who had been lulled into inaction under the previous administration.
The opposition began to explode the very night Trump was elected. Masses of people, mostly young, poured out into the streets of cities across the country, often blocking traffic and taking other direct actions.
Inauguration Day - on Jan. 20, a workday - was to be be Trumpís shining moment. Instead, Washington, D.C., was the scene of non-stop protests: marches, rallies, street disruptions and one of the smallest turnouts of supporters in memory for a newly elected president.
Anti-inaugural actions also took place the same day in many cities across the U.S.
UNAC supported and helped build the anti-inaugural actions in Washington, D.C., and around the country. On Jan. 20, we spoke at a rally organized by #J20Resist and then joined the thousands who marched through the D.C. streets, including many UNAC-affiliated organizations such as the International Action Center, Students for a Democratic Society, Charlotte Uprising, Workers World Party, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Virginia Defenders, Black Agenda Report and more. Additionally, a UNAC leader addressed the rally held by the ANSWER Coalition along the inaugural parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The mood of the demonstrators on Inauguration day was determined and combative.† The police presence was heavy, with cops from the D.C. police force, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the National Guard. Coast Guard helicopters flew overhead while police roadblocks created barriers where people approached the area of the inaugural activity. Many had to spend hours in line at checkpoints in order to protest at the inaugural parade itself.
Many groups rallied throughout the day at a permitted space in McPhearson Park. Nearby, police confronted demonstrators and more than 200 people were ďkenneledĒ - surrounded on a city street and for hours physically kept from leaving - and then finally arrested.† Most were charged with felony rioting, which carries up to 10 years in prison and a $25 thousand dollar fine, a new level of repression for the capital city.† Those arrested included at least six journalists along with legal observers with the National Lawyers Guild. These repressive tactics represent a threat to and test of the entire movement and must be met with united support.
Womenís March draws millions around the world
On Saturday, Jan. 21, the Womenís March on Washington surprised everyone as the strength of millions was seen in the streets of D.C. and cities throughout the U.S. and the world. Four hours after the D.C. rally started, the demonstrators, mostly young and mostly female, were still streaming down side streets to get to the rally site.†
The rally itself was so large that the planned march became logistically impossible and had to be cancelled.† The signs people held were mostly handmade, indicating that it was not any one organization that had brought people to D.C., but the determination of millions not to allow Trump to roll back gains won through generations of struggle. Though size estimates are difficult, especially since the huge crowd could not be in one place at one time for all to see, there were probably a million people in the streets of Washington on Jan. 21. Meanwhile, crowds of many hundreds of thousands rallied in hundreds of cities in the U.S. and throughout the world.† This kind of turnout to oppose a new president is unprecedented and a harbinger of bigger things to come.
What is especially significant is that, while these protests were directed at Trump, there were few signs of support for the Democratic Party. The slogans carried in the U.S. streets on Jan. 21 reflected opposition to the sexism, racism and Islamophobia of the incoming Trump administration, but there were also signs against war, nuclear weapons and many other issues that objectively challenged the pro-war Democrats, with little pro-Clinton sentiment expressed.
Although the Democratic Party supported the actions, as did the corporate news media, the protests were not under the control of any organization.† People want action to oppose the Trump agenda and they are taking the movement in their own hands. No one is going to wait two or four years to vote out Trump.
Mass actions continue
After the Womenís March and the sister rallies around the world, the news media asked if this was all a flash in the pan or the beginning of a movement?† The people answered immediately.† As Trump wielded his pen to sign one draconian initiative after another, people responded.† We have not left the streets since Inauguration day.
After Trump signed his ban on travel into the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Muslims were taken off planes en route to the U.S. or held in custody at airports when they arrived.† This included people with green cards or work visas.† Fear ran through Muslim communities and most thought it was now too dangerous to leave the U.S. because they might not be allowed back in. Students, workers and many businesses are affected.†
As news spread of Muslims being detained at JFK airport in New York City, people started arriving at the airport to protest.† Word got out through social and corporate media and soon thousands flooded JFK and other airports across the country to protest the Muslim ban.
It is interesting that the corporate news media, which under Obama did not publicize or cover our demonstrations, are doing so now.† Whatever their motives, this opens doors that can help us bring people into the streets.† As they march with thousands of others, they can feel their strength and the power of the people.† They learn to depend on themselves, not the politicians, who are responsible for the crises that we find ourselves in.†
We need to encourage this emerging movement to keep moving in this independent direction, organizing around the broad range of issues affecting so many different communities.† The politicians will want to rein in this movement.† They will long for the good old days when they could come to us at election time and ask for our votes with promises that they never have any intention of implementing.
Both political parties have been weakened during the past election. Now is the time for the people to rise up in our own name, with our own demands, independent of both parties of the bankers and corporate billionaires.
Itís time to make our voices heard. Join us in the streets!
No to Racism, Sexism & Islamophobia!
For LGBTQ rights!
End the Wars at Home & Abroad!