Submitted to It’s Going Down
I went to the march against Trump on Wednesday evening thinking I would get bored quickly and head over to a friend’s “burn stuff” gathering at her house to process with close friends. But I was wrong. The march really hit the spot, and until I got there my despair about Trump’s victory prevented me from realizing it was a beautiful night. I got to the rally site 30 minutes before the announced step-off, but they had already left! I was standing there with my sign, calling a friend to see where they were at, when a woman asked me “Is that (the sign) for the march? Do you know where it is?”
I ended up giving her a ride down to the Trump Hotel, assuming (correctly) things would end up there. We had a pretty awkward conversation about voting in the car; she was a total Hillary fan. There was a pretty decent sized crowd outside the Trump Hotel. 200? 300? Plus two big antifascist action flags.
When I was an adolescent, I spent a lot of time going to anti-war protests in DC during the Bush years, and I was reminded A LOT of those times by this march: various socialist groups’ ready-made protest signs, the same tired chants, and all this focus on one really bad person as the president. I was shaken out of my nostalgia when someone hit the Trump Hotel with a paintbomb. The crowd took to the streets, with a small black bloc dragging newspaper bins into the streets and knocking over traffic cones. One fellow marcher was accidentally hit in the face with a traffic cone and it broke his glasses. He was understandably angry, although the person who did it honorably went to the person to apologize. Be aware of each other when you’re fucking shit up, people!
The march went from the Trump Hotel to Lafayette Park, next to the White House. There were some cops protecting the Trump Hotel and White House, but the police were pretty hands-off with the march itself. Once at Lafayette Park, the folks from Native in DC led some songs and repped the NO DAPL cause really hard. From closer to the White House I heard “Fuck Trump!” chants, so I drifted towards them. There was a cipher going on—people venting about what lies ahead, how their people are under attack, how this is bigger than Trump.
One person started talking about how America was never great, and this drunk woman who had been yelling at people for using profanity in their chanting punched them in the face. The cops swooped in and slammed America-was-never-great person onto the ground and whisked them out of the crowd, detained. A group of young black women immediately got up in the cops’ faces, real close, and were telling them off left and right. They were real quick with the “fuck the police” chants after that. I tried to stay close to them for the rest of the march. The crowd followed the cops to where they took our comrade, until the police decided to clear us from the area in front of the White House. I heard later that the detainee was later released with no charges.
People marched around a little more until ending up back at Trump Hotel again. On the march lots of young workers at the chain stores in nightlife/shopping areas we marched through came out to chant their support. More ciphers and speak-outs went down at Trump Hotel. I left after being in the march for about 3 hours.
Some first impressions from this march and about the Trump era:
-For some time, there will be some general openness to radical messaging and the idea of ‘revolt,’ even from Hillary supporters
-However, it will be difficult to get the focus on the system that made Trump’s presidency possible rather than Trump as a person
-There were **some** progressive Hillary people in the march but to me it seemed like it was mostly people who were already active in non-electoral activism and organizing: NO DAPL people, Black Lives Matter folks, anarchists, socialists, etc.
-People throughout the crowd were already talking about the inauguration (January 20) protests with certainty.
-I forgot how goddamn easy it is to protest in DC. I don’t know if it’s because the cops were sympathetic to a protest against Trump or if their hands are still tied after the numerous lawsuits they lost during the anti-globalization and anti-war years, but they were really not trying to hound the crowd hard. When those cops did swoop in and detain that one person, they were some special White House park police, not regular DC police. This is worth taking advantage of if there will be a large anarchist mobilization at the inauguration.