Jan 20, 2018, much of the Federal government’s non-cooercive portions shut down on the anniversary of Trump’s Inauguration. ICE, the FBI, and the military are not included in the shutdown. Meanwhile, protesters hit the streets all over DC. There was a satirical vigil for a broken window at the same Starbucks that got trashed on J20-2017, another Women’s March, and a culminating banner drop between the flagpoles in front of Union Station.
This may have been the first time in living memory that a sitting US President was so unpopular that a second round of counter-inaugural protests took to the streets on the anniversary of his Inauguration. Last time around, counterinaugural protests took place over four days, and the last of them (the Women’s March) has been reported to have been the largest protest in US history by turnout.
The events of Jan 20, 2018 began with a satirical vigil for a broken window outside the Starbucks at 12th and I sts NW, “memorializing” a window allegedly smashed by a small number of people breaking from the 500+ person anticapitalist march on Jan 20, 2017. Although the vigil was satire, it made the very serious point that 50 years in prison over a broken window is an obscenity and a shocking extreme of disproportion. Anyone reading this who has never had to replace a window broken by an errant baseball, a stone kicked up by tires on the road, or some other accident is quite fortunate. One of the videographers stepped forward from behind the camera to announce that “this is not about 11 broken windows, it’s about one broken Presidency.”
At least a half hour in advance of the publicly announced 1PM J20 solidarity cupcake Black Lives Matter, No Justice No Pride, SURJ, and DC area anti-fascist activists descended on Columbus Circle in front of Union Station. Two climbers, one a transgender woman, and one an African-American woman) started up the twinned flagpoles. By the time cops noticed anything was going on, they were safely out of reach. Slowly but surely they ascended, while cops unlawfully placed police lines all the way around the protesters on the ground supporting them. Finally they got high enough off the ground to unfurl a giant “Don’t Trump Our Communities” Black Lives Matter banner. When cops threatened the protesters on the ground with arrest if they held their ground, they marched off, taking the street and circling to the opposite side of the banner, whose letters faced outward towards the street. Both climbers were eventually arrested, though they were reported to be out of police custody by evening.
Much of the activist community sees the remaining 59 J20 cases as a strategic threat to all future protests if anyone is ever convicted. This goes double for participants in events such as those of Ferguson and Baltimore, where police murder led to wholesale urban uprisings. Even before Trump there was the failed attempts by a GOP state government in North Dakota to prosecute a large number of people on serious felonies for daring to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. In 2017, over 100 DAPL felony charges were dropped. With these dangerous precedents, it is appropriate that Black Lives Matter-DC and No Justice No Pride joined forces for the high profile civil disobedience and banner drop between the flagpoles at Union Station. It is also appropriate that this is in “Columbus Circle,” named for the first of the colonizing aggressors in whose footsteps Trump is following.
Speaking of broken Presidencies, the mostly Democratic Party based speakers at the Women’s March called out Donald Trump as a failure for being unable to pass a budget or even keep the government (those parts not concerned with shooting or jailing people) running while his party controls both houses of Congress plus the White House. Many in the audience bore signs urging the Democrats to stand strong and refuse to back down on DACA. If Congress passes either a budget or a short-term spending bill with protection for “Dreamers” (immigrants brought here without documents as children), then Trump must either keep the “government” shut down or abandon his plans to deport the first 800,000 people of his proposal to deport up to 11 or 12 million.
Unfortunately, the Women’s March did contain some seriously sour notes. It was organized by Women’s March VA without the support of the national Women’s March organizers. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser was permitted to speak, even though much of her program such as more cops, more people in jail, and opposing raising the minimum wage is in line with Trump. Worst of all, Women’s March VA (#womensmarch2018dc)blocked both No Justice No Pride and DMV Black Lives on all of their social media accounts. It’s one thing not to work with local organizers but to actively block them and seek to deny their rank and file information about locally organized events is another story.
So many things happened a year ago! All the checkpoints into Trump’s Inauguration were blockaded for hours on end, Richard Spencer got punched in the face, the Women’s March out-drew Trump’s own Inaugural turnout, and a massive anti-capitalist march took to the streets from Logan Circle. That march was unlawfully mass-arrested, and cases to date have gone poorly for the US Attorney’s Office and lead prosecutor Jennifer Kerkhoff. Six defendents were acquitted of all charges in the first set of trials, which began in November almost ten months after the kettle. Two days before the anniversary of Trump’s Inauguratiion, the US Attorney’s office announced they had to drop the charges against 129 of the remaining defendents due in part to the jury verdict in that first case. Fifty-nine people are still facing over 60 years in prison however, which is the rest of their lives.
Video of the satirical vigil for the broken Starbucks window
Video of the Union Station banner drop
Banner drop at Union Station
The banner at Union Station
This looks like a “pepperball” rifle, an extended range pepper spray device that works like a common paintball gun. Many if not all of these are capable of fully automatic fire.
A satirical vigil at Starbucks for the window they lost during Trump’s Inauguration
Longer view of the Starbucks satire
The Women’s March at the Lincoln Memorial
Strong words at the Women’s March urging the Dems not to cave on DACA
No Trump no KKK