Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A day of protests

Multiple protests occur during the inauguration of President Donald Trump

The inauguration of President Donald Trump wasn’t the only event happening in D.C. today. Many protests occurred in the area, specifically in downtown D.C. and near the National Mall. Most of the demonstrations were protesting the swearing-in of President Donald Trump, but other protests were from anti-abortion and religious groups. Several AU students were present at the various events, chanting and protesting against the new president and his policies.

The inaugural #Trump420 at Dupont Circle

Early Friday morning, around 50 people were lined up at Dupont Circle for the inaugural #Trump420 event, started by the group DCMJ (DC Marijuana) otherwise known as the DC. Cannabis Campaign. By 8 a.m. there were more than 200 people in the area for the protest. The organization, which describes itself on its website as “a community group fighting for equal rights for D.C.cannabis users, growers, and their families,” gave those in line two free marijuana joints. 

D.C. resident William McDonald and Ashley Hutchinson of Chesapeake Beach, Maryland said they came to the event to get free marijuana and said they would later attend the inauguration. A similar event by the same group took place in 2013 before marijuana was legalized in the district. While marijuana is now legal in D.C., the protest was to show Trump and his supporters that D.C. residents want marijuana to remain legal in the new Trump administration.

There were over 50 volunteers assisting with the distribution of marijuana, Martin Moulton, a DCMJ volunteer and a Libertarian for Trump advocate, said.

“Early on before any other candidate said it, Trump was against interventionist wars, for years has advocated against ending the drug war, legalizing all drugs to take the funding out of the cartels,” Moulton said.

McPherson Square protests:

McPherson Square located near the White House served as a base for organizations and protesters associated with DisruptJ20, one of the main organizers involved with inauguration day protests. Several grassroot organizations, including Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS) and Black Youth Project 100, D.C. Chapter and others, set up tables with information about involvement and organizing efforts.

Disrupt J20 is an organization acting in defiance of the Trump administration. According to its website, J20 will “protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, rise up, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear.” During the inauguration, many protesters of the J20 movement blocked or severely prevented people from accessing the grounds to the inauguration and the parade.

Ethan Miller, a 2013 AU alum, helped organize an hour-long blockade at one of the security checkpoints to the Mall earlier in the morning. The blockade was with a coalition of different groups, according to Miller, including Muslims, immigrants and Jews.

“A lot [is] happening today and I think it’s because people are motivated to take action,” Miller said. “People know they don’t want to be silent.”

Darakshan Raja, an organizer from the Washington Peace Center, also helped lead the blockade.

“There was some physical violence from Trump supporters to our folks,” she said. “Otherwise our movement was beautiful. We held signs that read ‘Existence is Resistance’ and the other, ‘Communities under attack fight back.’ For the next for the next four years, we are going to become united and we are going to come together.”

DisruptJ20 March from Union Station:

Around 600 protesters in collaboration with DisruptJ20 left Union Station around 11 a.m. and marched for over an hour to McPherson Square. The group began on Massachusetts Ave. and walked west, with volunteers leading the large group down the streets of D.C. There were several AU students in the march.

Jacob Schmidt, a senior in the School of International Service, stressed the continued need to organize and protest after Inauguration Day

“I want to be a part of the organizing for the next four years, I think that is really important to show solidarity right now, in the city that I live in, and work tomorrow,” Schmidt said.

Laura Golian, a 2015 alumna, also underscored the need to demonstrate.

"It’s really important to exercise our right to protest,” she said “it’s really important to show that he does not have a mandate."

In light of Trump’s Inauguration, people felt compelled to take action, AU sophomore Charlotte Ruda said.

“We weren't planning on coming down because we didn't want to seem like we were supporting Trump,” Ruda said. “But I decided that I can’t just go home and sit like nothing is happening.”

Ticketed Entrance for the inauguration (3rd Street and D Street):

Around 10 a.m., participants of the climate contingent of the Disrupt J20 protests gathered in front of seven ticketed areas for entrance to the inauguration. Protesters linked arms and blocked major entry ways into the inaugural events, attendees waited in long lines to enter the National Mall.

AU students joined hundreds of other protesters outside of the ticketed entrances to help form the human blockade and block supporters from entering the inauguration, freshman Stephanie Hernandez said.

“The whole objective was to block the entrance, that is why there were huge lines” Hernandez said. “People were being very aggressive, trying to get through the blockade,”

Protesters chanted "Trump's cabinet is a joke, climate change is not a hoax." Additionally, others chanted, “separate oil and state,” and “black lives matter.”

Signs read, “Don’t give him a chance, no moral compromise” and, “How do we go from a man leading us to a boy?”

Additionally, students from all over the U.S. were at the protest, several being organizers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The main goal of the event was to protest against Trump and his conflicts of interests, while also addressing climate change and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Court House protests:

Protesters from both sides of the political divide joined at the different court houses, including the U.S. District Court, Superior Court of D.C. and the U.S. Foreign Surveillance Courts. AU sophomore Jeffrey Guzmán protested and organized with students from George Washington University, Georgetown University and Howard University to rally against the Trump Administration.

"I want to be here to symbolically show that I’m not standing with anything that he stands for,” Guzmán said. “Because this doesn’t end now. This has to keep going on for the next four years. We just really have to work together.”

AU Sophomore Elena Pierson was also present to protest against Trump.

“You just can’t sit and wait while the country is doing stuff you don’t want it to do,” Pierson said.

AU Students for Justice in Palestine also blocked entrances to the inauguration ceremony near the court houses, preventing Trump supporters from entering the area.

“We are here supporting the Black Lives Matter Bloc for the Disrupt J20 protest. We have been able to resist,” Ntebo Mokuena, Vice President of AU SJP said in the midst of a chaotic protest in which confrontation between protesters and supporters sometimes led to physical altercations. “There are violent Trump supporters who keep pushing and shoving but we are holding our own down here.” 

ksaltzman@theeagleonline.com, lholmes@theeagleonline.com and mcarrasco@theeagleonline.com 


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