Jo Freeman: Protesting An Inaugural
"We disrupted Trump to send a message that We the People will not let this stand," said Kai Newkirk of Democracy Spring, one of six activists escorted out of Friday's inauguration ceremony. "We will put our bodies and freedom on the line to defend democracy." (Photo: Democracy Spring)
Protesting the inauguration of a President has become a tradition. While those who shouted "not my President" and other things as Donald Trump ascended to the highest office in the land clearly did not like him, most of them would have demonstrated had it been Hillary Clinton who took the oath.
The inauguration, like the nominating conventions the summer before, is a soapbox because it attracts press looking for stories. This gives protesters an opportunity for a national voice for their issues that they usually don't have. Unfortunately, these issues are often obscured when a small number choose to destroy property.
That’s what happened in DC on January 20 late in the day while the inaugural parade was proceeding up Pennsylvania Ave. A small group broke windows, threw bricks, and burned a limousine on K Street, well outside the security zone. These incidents received most of the press's attention, pushing other issues out of the headlines and to the bottom of the coverage.
I didn't see any of this, but I certainly heard about it at every place I went later in the day. Every protest I personally observed was non-violent, even when it was disruptive.
The day began with a smoke-in in front of a bank at Massachusetts Avenue and 20th Street where DCMJ
was handing out joints made from legally grown cannabis. This is legal in the District under certain conditions. DCMJ wants to make legalization national. I saw about 200 people gathered at that location, at which a couple dozen were standing in line to show their IDs and receive a joint. Three people in a cage made to look like a jail were handing them out with a sign aimed at Attorney General-to-be Jeff Sessions who wants to keep it a crime. They planned to march to the National Mall
but I didn't hang around to watch them do it. The Mall is federal territory where they were subject to arrest, but I didn’t hear what had happened.
Next stop was McPherson Square
, where Occupy camped out for several months four years ago. DisruptJ20
has been running training sessions at two local churches all week. There was a Medic tent on one corner of the square, and another large tent for different groups to set up tables and promote their own issues out of the impending rain. Seeds of Peace and Food not Bombs were passing out free food.
. Trainers were telling different small groups that the primary action would be to blockade the lines at the security checkpoints where crowds would be trying to get to the parade.
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