I’ve long believed that a President-elect shouldn’t be held to the same standards as a sitting President. So when I tell you that Mr. Trump’s recent Twitter activity is lauding the efforts of a bunch of bikers who want to ride in and build a “wall of muscle” to protect the Inauguration, please understand that this is not a criticism of Mr. Trump’s decorum. That starts Saturday.
Instead, I’d like to talk briefly about the different protests and counter-protests that we should expect both in the nation’s capitol and across the country.
(Most of this information is freely available on the internet, in large part right off the websites of the organizers. I would like Dingfelder’s article in the Post Express, which reminded me of a couple of protests I’d missed. Read it here.)
Women’s March On Washington
Although this is scheduled for the day after the Inauguration rather than the day of, this march takes pride of place because it’s going to be bloody huge. There’s a permit for 200,000 people to participate in DC, and parallel marches and rallies will be taking place all over the country.
This is important: This march is not a protest. It’s intended to be positive, a rally underlining that the issues important to women are important to all of us, especially to anyone who’s hoping to get re-elected in two years. And mostly, it’s about their vision; here’s a quote:
“We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”
If you’re interested or attending, though, you need to read about DisruptJ20, below.
This group is a peaceful protest pure and simple. It’s grassroots, with no permit, and it was organized mostly through social media. (Hence the hashtag.) Somewhere around twenty thousand people are planning to march in peaceful — and above all silent — protest on inauguration day. This is their Facebook page.
Also operating under as #InaugurateTheResistance, this group plans protests in several major cities. Their goal is not necessarily a peaceful one; they’re one of many organizations allied with organized labor and Socialist Action, affiliated with the Trotskyite Fourth International.
(The above is a gross oversimplification, but I don’t have time for more and, frankly, ANSWER isn’t big enough to warrant the attention.)
Bikers For Trump Halftime Rally
Apparently, their official motto is “Suck it up, buttercup.” This is a counter-protest; the idea here is that Trump won and we need to get over it and move on. They plan to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the National Anthem, and look as biker as bikers can when they don’t have their bikes with them. Interestingly, a lot of the members of this group also plan to join the Women’s March the following day.
(I’m all about diversity and such, but I gotta admit: A little part deep inside me is really loving their motto.)
Anti-War / Anti-Nuke
This is a coalition protest set up for Franklin Square Park. There’s a bunch of human rights groups, and a wide range of speakers including Jill Stein of the Green Party. It’s likely to draw a huge crowd of peaceful protestors. It is not, however, terribly well advertised or organized, which is the main reason it’s only got one short paragraph here.
In honor of Trump and the Inauguration, the local marijuana advocacy group is handing out 4200 free joints. 20th and P Street NW, 8 AM; they plan to defy the law and light up on the National Mall at minute 4:20 of Trump’s address. 21 or older; must bring ID.
Rise Above Conference
Over a hundred thousand lawyers. Sounds like the start of a joke, right?
Well, this group is meeting over the weekend in order to organize legal solutions to anything Mr. Trump might come up with that’s unconstitutional or contravenes basic human rights. It’s not a protest; it’s a highly organized conference with a schedule and an agenda, and probably with a vast collection of very expensive suits.
The good news here? Most of them won’t need to travel. (Yes, I was compelled to make a lawyer joke; it’s statutorily compulsory now. And I didn’t think “laid end to end” would get me enough mileage; 130,000 isn’t nearly enough.)
This is a protest that’s not happening — or, rather, it’s already happened. The Reverend Al Sharpton, a man who speaks of peace and equality but behind whom riots follow, was planning to bus thousands into DC on Friday. For some reason he couldn’t get a permit, so he decided to hold his rally the week before, over MLK weekend, when he was planning to be in town anyway. Basically, as far as he’s concerned the MLK memorial march got turned into an anti-Trump protest, but on the other handl nothing major got burned down. For Sharpton, that may be a record — but, to be fair, the march wasn’t actually about him.
Some large groups of his friends and followers are planning to bus in on Friday anyway, joining other rallies. Last I heard, he’s planning to speak in Franklin Square, but a lot of the more peaceful organizations are distancing themselves and I don’t know if that’s final.
These folks have been in the news, but you might have missed it, so click the link and read.
Organized by a coalition of activist groups, DisruptJ20 is planning to take the protest maneuvers learned at BLM and Standing Rock and use them to shut down transportation infrastructure on Inauguration Day. Independent journalists have exposed one plan to stop Metro trains at stations all over the city, and there’s a march scheduled to shut down one of DC’s major avenues at the least opportune moment.
This group is operating on a cell basis, with the central organization designed mainly to offer training on such subjects as police interaction to avoid arrest and methods for blocking highways. As such, there’s not much that can be done to prevent even the more obstructive (and destructive) protests. “We are going to make things a total clusterf—,” is how the Post Express quoted protest organizer Legba Carrefour.
Because of the style of organization, a lot of the planning for individual demonstrations is being done by word of mouth through student organizations and small internet chat groups. Some of what’s being passed about is surely just rumor; some has foundation. More worrying is that some of the more outlandish gossip may inspire independent action — which is DisruptJ20’s stated goal (since taken down from their website). Some of the ideas are truly nasty: A human chain blocking the top of a metro station escalator, for instance, which if put into practice would certainly cause several deaths.
On the other end of things, however, DisruptJ20 is organizing the LGBT dance outside Mike Pence’s house, which is far from destructive in conception. Additionally, they’re planning to link up with the local Occupy march for a rally in McPherson Square that afternoon, which should be very contained.
One of the most worrying yet persistent rumors is that of a planned disruption of the Women’s March on Saturday, using trained and organized teams to obstruct and divert that peaceful march into other, far less pleasant channels. Fortunately, the security team is already aware of this and has taken some steps to protect the rally.
The Bottom Line
It’s probably going to rain Friday in DC, which all things considered means we may just dodge a bullet. People tend to not riot so much in the rain; it rather dampens the enthusiasm of even the angriest mob. And this is going to be a nasty winter drizzle of that very type that has inspired Irish emigration over the centuries.
Still and all, though, if you’re planning to participate, remember: Be smart; be safe. Bring a raincoat and an umbrella; the local vendors charge $20. And, please, don’t burn the place down. It still hasn’t recovered from the last time, and I expect the local Marine detachment would become somewhat annoyed with you.
Also, you might check out my earlier post about appropriate protest in our society.