Impeachment, anti-Muslim Ban, GLBTQ marches against Trump join at Trump Hotel

The 27th of January was the anniversary of Donald Trump signing Executive Order 13769, also known as Muslim Ban 1.0. This triggered massive airport protests and urban marches a year ago. This year in DC, the march gathered at the White House to oppose Trump’s current Muslim Ban, and was met there by the “People’s March on Washington,” a much larger march, from the WWII Memorial demanding Trump be impeached.Both marched together to Trump Hotel, where they joined with WERK for Peace’s “intersectional” GLBTQ dance party.

On the way to Trump Hotel, the two-component march stopped on Penn Ave just past the Wilson Building to shout at Customs and Border Patrol’s offices in the Ronald Reagan Building further back. CBP had been the orginal objective of the march against the Muslim Ban. It was the Muslim Ban protesters who led the combined march from the White House, but Trump Hotel may simply have been deemed to be one of the few buildings associated with Trump and his evil works that would actually have Trump supporters inside on a Saturday.

WERK for Peace marched north, not south at the conclusion of their rally, but one of their keynote speakers in front of Trump Hotel was from the march against the Muslim Ban. He noted that Queer and Trans Muslims were affected like all others by Trump’s ban, and said “we will never stop fighting the man who owns that tacky hotel.” Each mention of Trump’s Muslim Ban or the hotel brought a chorus of booing from the crowd. Three different marches had been joined into a single whole by the menace of their combined enemy, Donald Trump.

The Werk For Peace action itself was a joint action with the National LGBTQ Task force, and was known as “WERK for Consent.” Like the other two marches it has specific demands. In this case they were actually of the DC City Council, which is being asked to pass bills to decriminalize sex work and to put the brakes on gender-based street harassment. The Washington Blade reports that WERK for Consent had as a specific theme “Intersectionality” meaning solidarity with others under attack such as Muslims, immigrants, Indigenous people and people of color in general.When the rally at Trump Hotel was over, WERK for Consent led everyone in a march to and past the Wilson Building, where speakers pressed the demands being made of the City Council.

More on the WERK for PEACE/Task Force action from the Washington Blade

Video showing how the three marches worked together

Speaker at WERK For Consent demands DC decriminalize sex work

The impeachment march issues forth from the WWII Memorial, not sure if they started there or further up the Mall

In front of Trump Hotel by WERK for Peace, just after the other marches joined forces with them

Dancers in front of Trump Hotel

Marchers on the move after leaving Trump Hotel

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Family, supporters of Bijan Gaisar protests his death at US Park Police hands

On the 26th of January, Bijan Gaisar’s family and friends spoke at a massive protest in front of the US Dept of the Interior, demanding the names of the two US Park Police officers who shot him dead.

On Friday, Nov 17, 2017, US Park Police approached his vehicle with drawn guns after a chase that began over a fender bender in which he had been the victim, struck from behind. At the end of the chase, he may have seen the guns, reacted, and tried to escape with his life.

Bijan’s sister pointed out in her speech that the entire pursuit violated US Park Police policy, as well as the blatent illegality police firing on a driver for nothing more than trying to drive away from a traffic stop. That sort of thing is only legal for things like armed and dangerous robbery suspects. Interestingly, it would have been entirely legal for police to stop Charlottesville terrorist James Field’s clearly visible damaged Dodge Charger by shooting him dead, or by shooting out two or more tires. Instead, he was taken into custody without a single shot being fired-and he did not ram to police officers who did so even though he had killed one person and put 19 others in the hospital with the exact same car.

By comparison Bijan Gaisar’s role in the intial crash was as the VICTIM, with no harmful intentions against anyone, and was shot dead in volation of both procedure and law for driving away from a traffic stop.
For whatever reason (maybe disoriented by impact?) he drove away from being struck from behind and US Park Police in violation of their own policies chose to pursue. They then shot he 9 bullets fired at Bijan in four separate bursts. His family and friends want body cameras on all US Park Police, all of the time. They want the names of the two killer cops, and want these two “aggressors” brought to justice for their crimes.

Ugly Virginia traffic laws may have also played a role in this: Virginia is a state that arrests drivers for speeding 10mph over a 70mph speed limit, and arrests for “reckless driving.” Thus, it is no surprise that Virginia declares leaving the scene of an accident to be a felony if there was property damage. This, in turn, causes cops to treat stops of such motorists as “felony stops” and some cops draw their guns for this. Of course, drawing a gun greatly increases the risk that the person drawn upon will upon seeing the weapons decide that survival depends on escape-or upon pre-emptive attack-at any price. Thus armed “felony stops” essentially guarantee shootings by escalating the situation until this outcome will always occur some of the time, especially when racism is factored in. Bijan’s sister said he was very afraid of guns and had never handled one, so it stands to reason that on seeing guns, he would see fleeing as his only chance to survive, expecting to be shot if he stayed on the scene rather than for trying to get out of range.

Video-Bijan’s sister speaks out at the rally(complete)

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Kurds march on White House as US ally Turkey bombs Kurdish town of Afrin

On the 26th of January, DC area Kurds and their supporters marched on the White House to demand that the US not support Turkey’s offensive against Rojava and instead impose a no-fly zone.

For a week US ally Turkey has been bombing and shelling the Kurdish town of Afrin, even though the Kurdish YPG was the main fighting force in the regional war against Daesh(ISIS). Turkey’s theocratic President Erdogan may of course prefer Daesh to autonomous Kurds.

The protest in DC began with a rally at the State Dept, then marched past the IMF and World Bank to finish with a protest at the White House. This was one of many protests held around the world against Erdogen’s terror bombing and invasion of Kurdish lands. The US is theoretically opposed to Turkey’s offensive but so far has done nothing to control their ally’s aggression.

Of course, Donald Trump has a theocrat of his own (Mike Pence) as his VP, and far from cutting off Turkey’s access to shells and bombs to shoot at the Kurds has instead threatened to cut off US arms to Kurdish YPG fighters. Erdogen is generally regarded as both a theocrat and a fascist, sort of like Trump and Pence in one man. This “birds of a feather” aspect may be why the Turkish diplomatic security goons that beat and kicked protesters on US soil back on May 16, 2017 have never been punished. DC issued arrest warrants, but the US Dept of State never took tough measures to demand extradition, such as threatening to declare Erdogan himself “persona non grata,” not allowed to return to the US.

War is always brutal, nasty and diffcult, but the YPG is holding out, and Turkey is already losing their tanks to RPG rockets fired by Kurdish YPG fighters. Erdogen told the Turkish public he would crush Afrin in three days, instead he has seen no progress after a week of war. His troops are being cut down in some reported cases just 200-300 meters from the Turkish border as Kurdish YPG freedom fighters defend every square inch of their homeland. The war goes poorly for Erdogan and is being called a humiliation of NATO as a whole. On the Kurdish side of the war, another continetent of international volunteers has just joined the fight, much as so many did in the victorious defense of Kobane from Daesh. This has been compared in such forums as Anarchist News to the Spanish Civil War, which had a similar level of international participation.

Turkey’s planes are bombing and their tanks are shelling civilian apartment buildings, while Kurdish fighters are destroying the actual weapons of Turkish occupation, such as these tanks. Of course, this means the YPG has to fight a two-front war, against both Turkey and the remnants of Daesh. While the YPG will probably suceed in defeating Turkey, it may require protracted insurgent warfare to do so, and when it is over Afrin could easily look like Kobane did after the successful defense of that down against Daesh.Speaking of Daesh, their almost totally defeated remnants may well succeed in retaking territory and reconstituting their army while Kurdish YPG fighters are busy elsewhere fighting Turkish troops.

The message the US is sending by allowing one of its NATO allies to bomb and shell YPG fighters who did the hard work against Daesh is this: If you fight our wars for us, we’ll promise you the moon and the stars, then throw you away when we are done with you. Enouch of this and the US will fight their next war alone.

Video of the Kurdish march and rallies raw clips by Lacy Macauley

Photo by Noflyzone4Afrin

Stand with the YPG in solidarity against fascism! (Photo By Lacy Macauley)

Marching past the World Bank, then the IMF(Photo by Lacy Macauley)

At the White House (Photo by Lacy Macauley)

THIS is what Turkey is doing: an obvious apartment building (balconies) hit by a Turkish bomb or shell, two units burning. Uncertain if this is from one explosion or two. (Photo from Tommaso Cacciara Twitter account.)

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J2018 protests hit the streets on anniversary of Trump’s Inauguration

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

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Pipeline/fracking opponents post their demands on the walls of FERC

On the 18th of January, Beyond Extreme Energy and others fighting against fracked gas pipelines, fracking, and eminent domain posted their demands on the walls of FERC shortly before the agency’s monthly meeting.

As fast as activists were putting up fliers demanding that FERC comply with other Federal agencies and laws, security guards ripped them down.

FERC or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is the agency responsible for approving fracked gas pipelines and approving them for the use of eminent domain. FERC is also the prototype for Trump’s pattern of putting industry kingpins in charge of the agencies that regulate their own agencies. FERC is paid for by the very companies it regulates, and FERC commissioners usually have prior experience as executives of pipeline and utility companies. FERC has been called a rubber stamp as they have only disapproved one fracked gas pipeline and one LNG terminal in recent times. They have been called out as a revolving door, and even as the “FERCus” as their process (and their meetings) have become such a circus.

Video: Posting demands on the doors and walls of FERC

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Black Lives Matter DC marches in, is grand marshalls at MLK day parade

On the 15th of January, Black Lives Matter DC marched in the annual DC MLK day parade. Black Lives Matter DC also had the honor of being selected as grand marshalls in the parade this year.

Behind Black Lives Matter was the contingent demanding justice for Terrence Sterling, and after that came a Returning Citizens contingent representing those putting their lives back together after surviving the hell of imprisonment and literal slave labor prisoners are subjected to. Yet another contingent had several signs condemning Donald Trump’s “shithole country” remarks, one of them saying Trump’s US was the only shithole country in the world.

The organizers of Capitol Pride could learn a lot from the organizers of this parade about how to do a successful parade in DC without having to fill it up with corporate sponsored contingents. Clearly it can be done! Seeing a Returning Citizens contingent instead of private-prison funding Wells Fargo was especially satisfying. Unknown if all of this this is a deliberate choice by organizers to favor their own community over paying sponsors, or just a refusal by racists corporations like Wells Fargo to march in the MLK day parade anyway. Either way, the parade was a complete success, takes place every year, and was almost entirely free of the sort of corporate presence that has polluted so many Capitol Pride parades.

Video highlights of the Black Lives Matter contingent

DC Black Lives Matter in the house!

The car and lead banner in the DC Black Lives Matter contingent

Starting out

The Terrence Sterling contingent

Graffiti seen near the end of the parade

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Protest against GITMO on 16th anniversary of opening leads to five arrests

On Jan 11, protesters marked the 16th anniversary of the opening of Gitmo with a protest in front of the White House,. They found Penn Ave closed (as usual) so they held a tea ceremony for the current 41 detainees on the park side sidewalk. Afterwards, five people marched into the prohibited zone in an act of civil disobedience and were arrested.

“Convenient” closures of Penn Ave for “security” reasons are common when protesters are expected in front of the White House, but this time it didn’t work out like the SS and Park Police had expected. Instead of stopping the protest or keeping it out of sight and mind, it was itself a starring element in the civil disobedience.

In this exceptionally dangerous time, with an overt Fascist in the White House, for anyone to engage in civil disobedience is an act requiring exceptional courage. The same is true for the attorneys who continue to represent Gitmo detainees at the risk of being targetted themselves. The failed military commissions have included attempts by the FBI to infiltrate defense attorney’s teams, and “mysterious” but convenient sound system failures in military courtrooms. Many of the detainees can never be put on trial because there is no evidence against them except that obtained under torture. Five detainees now at Gitmo were cleared for release but did not make it out before Trump took office and vowed to hold them no matter what the facts of their cases. Trump is an open enemy of all Muslims, and in his administration justice takes a back seat to hate, as it always does under Fascism.

Trump has vowed nobody will be released from Guantanimo Bay while he is in office, but has been unable to fulfill his pledge to send more detainees there. His administration has however overseen an unprecendented crackdown on dissent of any kind. Publishers of critical books are threatened with cease-and-desist letters which so far have been defied. There has been talk of revoking broadcast licenses of hostile radio and TV stations. Felony charges have been filed in city after city against anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters. Here in DC, there are still 188 people facing over 60 years in prison each if convicted on trumped-up felony charges stemming from Trump’s inauguration on Jan 20,2017.

Video highlights of the protest and civil disobedience

41 detainees are still in Gitmo

Lining up for a ceremonial serving of tea, removal of hoods, and reading the names of all 41 detainees still at Gitmo

Surprise! Banner holders march onto closed Penn Ave

Five people were arrested.

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