FOSNA interns recount their participation in anti-Trump actions since inauguration day.
This past Friday, I participated in a DisruptJ20 action with DC’s Showing Up for Racial Justice chapter. Around fifty activists arrived downtown at 5am, ready to try and shut down an inauguration security checkpoint. Our first checkpoint shutdown was unsuccessful; within 10 minutes, security had forcefully dragged away many of the “green” activists (those who put themselves in the most arrestible positions). We regrouped once we had all been forced out of the lines, and decided to move east to support the Movement for Black Lives activists in their efforts to shut down a different checkpoint; in this attempt, BLM activists chained themselves across the lines, as SURJ activists blocked off the doorways into the security tents. We successfully closed down the checkpoint, and as we were shutting down that checkpoint, activists from a wide variety of groups were working to block off the others. It was a powerful experience!
As a response to the election an inauguration of Trump, many collectives and organizations participated in a J20 rally and March in downtown Portland. I personally marched with Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP), an organization that I became a member of in early November.
The march route initially took the mass across one of Portland’s many bridges onto the east side where it was easier to block traffic and participate in a mass action. However, due to protests following the election which shut down I5 for the better part of 3 nights, the Portland Police department blocked every bridge entrance and began assaulting and tear gassing the entire crowd as we tried to continue on our planned route.
What was striking to me about this incident is how quickly police militarized and criminalized the situation. While organizations and individuals had shown up to stand up against facism, to demonstrate that we would not stand idly by in the coming weeks, months, and years of Trump’s administration, we were instantly met with aggression.
PCHRP decided that it was best for us to evacuate the march early on, as many of our members felt vulnerable and our collective didn’t have much experience with mass mobilizations. I appreciated this model of collectivism and accountability, and hope that it can be modeled as we take care of one another more wholly in the wake of the current administration.
On inauguration day, there were two anti-Trump events. The first was titled the “Day of Inclusion” and it was held on campus in the main plaza. The event gave the opportunity for students to speak about what Trump’s inauguration would mean for them. Students of various identities spoke to a large gathering of students and faculty. I also spoke and my speech was well received. I talked mainly about how we can’t absolve the Democratic party as well as the Republican party – for both have committed crimes. My point was that the system is at fault – US settler colonialism – not just Republicans.
The second event was a community march that began on City Hall. This was the largest protest march Athens, Georgia has ever seen. It’s estimated that about 4,500 people attended. It was a beautiful, powerful event in which march participants were incited from various speeches and chants. In both events, Students for Justice in Palestine had significant representation. Despite Trump winning, I’m glad that SJP has found it’s root in the Athens activist community.