Monday, January 23, 2017

“no pussy grabbing. no patriarchy, no fascist usa!”: on a weird inauguration weekend #trumpinauguration #disruptj20 #notmypresident #dumptrump

scenes from the women's march and over inauguration weekend - the largest protest in us history. 
Life gets weird.  I was not looking forward to inauguration weekend; dreading it is more like it.
Nonetheless, it was coming.  There had been other weird inauguration weekend trips, 2001 when we dressed as mock fascists, in docile obedience of the new Bush, the Students for Undemocratic Society, carrying mock signs with the words, “Obey” and “These Colors Don’t Run” over images of Bush and Excel Mobil.  My friend Jason Grote wrote:
“Something strange happened on January 20, 2001.  I don’t mean George W. Bush, although that was weird too.  There was a fleeting moment when I (and about 50 other people dressed like me) stood bellowing at a National Organization for Women rally.  Behind them was a barricade, then Pennsylvania Avenue, then another barricade, then Republicans, and behind them the Capitol Building, its bland white concrete blending into the great gray sky above us all.  And while I screamed “JOHN ASHCROFT DOESN’T DANCE!” in my fake British accent, boogieing spastically like some amalgam of Charlie Chaplin and a member of Devo, the hard brick ground seemed to turn into the boards of a stage.  The Capitol seemed like nothing more than pricey set dressing.  Everyone, from the NOW protesters to the fur-clad Bushites to the forced-to-be-avuncular Secret Service agents, was transformed, simultaneously, into actors and audience.  It wasn’t as if DC had been suddenly transmogrified into a theater: it’s always a theater.  It had, temporarily at least, been transformed from a bad play into a good one.”

We laughed (and cried) at lot at the tragicomedy of 2001.  Sixteen years later, it was hard to imagine that we could transform that bad play into a good one.  But we had to.
Three things were certain before inauguration day:

         The inauguration of Trump would be nauseating.
2       The women’s march would rock.
             And I was going to feel terrible all day.

But I did not know what to do about it. I didn’t think the blockades planned for inauguration would do much.
Still, I was drawn to come to DC on the 20th, just to see it, to be part of things. There are moments in history when we need to speak out, if even to history. Its important to say we were on the right side of things.
When I heard Rise and Resist had tickets to get inside the inauguration, I my mind was made up.
I had already bought a ticket for a bus trip to DC at 1230 am on Friday before the inauguration.
The feeling was surreal on the streets of New York City on Thursday night.  The police, the celebrities, the darkness seemed to envelop the evening.
The day before a policeman we’d all seen a few times in Times Square jovially told us he loved our protests.  He loved protest in general. Then his mood changed. “When we had protests, we used to burn things. Remember the moderate Germans who thought that Hitler would chill out once he got in there.  And then he was even more crazy.  Now its like that with Trump. We thought he was going to be more mellow once he got in there. But now we’re seeing he’s anything but “that.”
That was the feeling everyone had Thursday night at the rally in central park.
A  few hours later I got on the bus to DC, meeting my friends with Rise and Resist and ACT UP at west 13th street, driving into the night. I mostly slept on the way there, dozing in and out, thinking about the fifteen or sixteen trips to jail over the past eighteen years since I have been involved with non-violent direct action. These expressive actions were always a useful means for a hyper active emotional kid to act up and do something with that well of emotion inside. They were ways to scream when my friends were getting sick or the city was bulldozing community spaces or restricting civil liberties or unions or starting wars or police were beating people, whatever the issue was.  Civil disobedience opens a delicious form of defiance and expression. Its always been an outlet for emotion and communication.  Hopefully it could be one again.
As my friend Savitri D wrote:
“When arrested there is a moment in which it registers that you are "arrested"  followed by the remarkable realization that you are not free. This explicit lack of freedom makes you wonder if you are ever "really free." So in addition to being boring and frustrating jail is thought provoking, confounding. And if you are a person of color, an immigrant, a trans person, a queer person, a person with disabilities- all this is amplified by a dangerous and sometimes deadly threat. 

Jail is filthy. The floor almost always has piss on it, trash, detritus.  Sometimes it seems like more than could occur naturally and you wonder if the police put it there.To what degree do they curate your discomfort?  Maybe you can avoid the grime enough to do some standing up yoga, or sit on the bench with your eyes closed and imagine the wind on the ridge above the tree line. Light on the waves. Maybe you remembered to eat a big breakfast. 

The shared experience of being arrested can be powerful, also weirdly intimate. When you are arrested with people you suddenly have a great deal in common. Make of that what you will. Actual Solidarity can be an overwhelming sensation, as we are sorely out of practice. 

All of this is to say, Take Heart! Make Ready! and when the Earth calls go ahead and get in the way of that bulldozer. Block the sidewalk, interrupt a meeting, sing over those shoppers.” 

Riding through the night I was getting more and more excited about the weekend. I would not be wondering aimlessly. I would be going straight at the darkness.
The sun was nowhere to be seen when we arrived in DC at 5 AM.
With butterflies in our stomachs, we grabbed a train and made our way to the Inauguration.  Walking to get a coffee at Judiciary Square, I started to run into Trump supporters. The city was filled people in red “Make America Great Again” hats.  These were not urbanites.  Mostly men white men and a few women, the line to get inside the Inauguration was filled with them, all white. Obama seemed to be the only person of color inside.
I was supposed to meet Tim Murphy, a New York writer, whose work I adore. He’s written about drug use and HIV in the past, AIDS protests I’ve taken part in, etc.   For the Inauguration, he seemed to move into the mindset of one of the Trump supporters New Yorkers seem to know very little about. We made our way inside and through security. Tickets were easy to come by.  Few wanted to actually attend.
It was 645 AM and we’d have to stand there for five hours waiting for the magic moment when we’d seek to disrupt the inauguration, without getting found out first.
I kept blowing the cover.
“Benjamin” Tim scolded me when I told him about us talking about his book at my Marxist reading group.
“Look around you.”
Looking I saw a sea of red hats and white people, not a person of color in sight.
We found our standing room only spot by 7 AM, meeting up with Jaques and Jackie and Yougourthen
“This is going to be a real test of endurance,” moaned Tim.
I concurred, pulling out some work and starting to read.
Tim, on the other hand, was going undercover, to get the story of why everyone had voted for Trump in the first place and what they thought Obama had done wrong. 
“Too PC?” smiled Tim devilishly, seemingly provoking the crowd.  “I have held my tongue for two years. Perhaps we should bring back the word ‘uppity?’” He was engaging everyone in our section, snapping selfies, ] talking about the meaning of ‘bigley.’ Few would bite at his argument that it was time to scale back on rights. But many agreed with his point that too many people were voting and health care was too accessible, “especially Medicaid,” noted one Trump supporter.  Talking about Planned Parenthood, several repeated the point that “Healthcare is not a human right…”  “Abortion is not in the constitution.”  There was a lot of talk about “those people” who get too many benefits.
Tim asked one man what he would say if he could speak with Trump.
 “Don’t fuck us!” he replied, weary that Trump is not perfect, that the office is too powerful. “I would have voted for a potato over Hillary!” he concluded.
“You libtard,” Tim mocked me, doing his best Roy Cohn imitation.
“I think he’s liking this too much,” I whispered to Jaques. “Like Ed Meese condemning the porno he’s documenting. I think he’s getting Stockholm syndrome.”  Murphy was at it for hours.
“Things that happened in the past do not matter,” he declared.
“Its been dark for eight years,” one of his new friends replied, shaking their head.
The crowd was getting more and more excited as the jumbotron showed Trump’s limo making its way to the Capital.
“He’s coming.  He’s coming,” a woman to my right cheered, looking at the image of the limo.
It felt like Triumph of the Will.

“USA USA USA!” the crowd screamed.
“It would sound better in the original German,” I moaned to Jaques.
By 11:30 AM dignitaries were being introduced. Bill and Hillary, even Jimmy Carter received boos.
“You guys can’t boo Jimmy Carter!” I followed.  Most agreed.
“God blesses those who are poor …
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
Read More
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
Things only got worse when the minority leader Chuck Schumer read a civil war soldiers' letter to his wife.
“Boo!!!” “Sit Down!” “Get off!!!” “You’re killing me!” the Trump supporters screamed, sounding boorish. “Drain the swamp!” 
Jaques recalled: “There was one funny moment in there. After a bout of yelling, in a pause, I heard a voice behind me say "This is deplorable." His buddy must have asked him what he meant. "What we're doing right now, it's actually deplorable." This was, for me at least, the only detectably human expression in our whole 6 hours.”
A hushed silence filled the air as the president elect begin his oath of office.
And screams filled the air.
“Inept illegit” we bellowed as Trump began his oath of office @ The Capital. “
“Not my president!”
A commotion ensued.  I was worried we were going to get beaten up. There were thousands of them there. One man put his hand around my neck. And another grabbed the whistle I was blowing.
“You elected a fascist,” screamed Tim.
And the police started to pull us out. I was more than happy to oblige, walking with the policeman.
“Thanks for being cool about it,” the policeman told me.
“No problem. You guys have your hands full today.”
People all over the inauguration had acted up in union, one woman declaring: “pussy grabber;” another man stayed when the police did not come and the crowd took him down, strangling him.
The police escorted us out of the Inauguration, confiscating our tickets and not sending us to jail, where I thought we’d at least spend the night.
Adrenaline was oozing out of my ears. But it felt ok.  I was glad I had taken part in the big action. It was better than staying home, more empowering.
These are the people hell bend on drilling on public lands, doing away with climate regulations, who were busy scaping language about civil rights or LGBT rights off the White House Website as we were speaking.
Across town, people were marching, blocking, and for a while even dancing.  That felt best to me after the toxic atmosphere of the days before. So we all joined the march/ party.
So a few of us went to go get a bite at Dupont Circle to Kramerbooks and Cafe.  There Jaques interviewed Mark Milano, one of the prime organizers of the event, whose done this stuff for years now with ACT UP.
“As a long term survivor of HIV /AIDS, I have to find ways to create meaning in my life. Fighting HIV, overpriced medicines, has kept me alive.  And now I’m dedicating my life to stopping Trump.” 
Eating and debriefing, images of police in riot gear and teargas filled the tv.
“Lets go check it out,” noted Jaques and Mark.
So a few of us walked toward the riot by Mcpherson Square.  Members of the black bloc were everywhere, police in riot gear, some kids sitting on a limousine with broken windows.  The smell of teargas everywhere. 
Standing there, a teargas canister flew above me.
Some kids grabbed it and threw it back.
“They were throwing mace and concussion grenades,” noted one man standing taking in the scene as some kids in black dragged out two trashcans and lit them on fire.
I ran into my friend Brandon from ACT UP who told me about his day with the blockades.
“The police were charging into the crowd and trampling them, trampling protesters,” he explained.  Many of the women took the lead on holding the space.
We talked about what was happening in the street, where we stood.
“We are standing in front of the Washington Post where protesters have set a bonfire.  I know there were flash grenades and teargas was set off earlier. I saw a police van tried to approach the crowd of about a few hundred and protesters started throwing stuff at it.  And the police threw it in reverse and it shot out into the crowd, almost hitting people for sure, going down a really long block, way in reverse with a few protesters chasing it.”
As we were speaking, I was getting emails about the White House taking down all its language about civil rights, LGBT, and climate.  Around me people rioting.  And I was wondering where  the real violence was coming from – a few smashed windows or deregulations that will leave people dead. 
“That’s infuriating,” noted Brandon. “I think its all going to be reflected back in the attitude and the mood of the protesters.”
So we’re gonna have to fight it off. There is no transition in power for those in the streets.  We are still here and we’re getting stronger. There is no transition in power for us.

At the same time, the new president ordered the erasure of climate issues and queer people from the federal front page and replaced it with a direct attack on the Black Lives Matter movement via the new front page emphasis on a renewed effort into policing. Yesterday it became known that he is proposing to end domestic violence funding. We aren't 7 hours in yet.
If a busted Starbucks window or an offended Trump supporter is your concern right now then there's a lot of shit for you to go figure out.


From Crimethinc
From a video taken inside the kettle at 12th and L Streets. Detainees, who have been held for hours, are currently being processed–some arrested and some released.
Below, a transcript of two of their statements:
Mic check
Statement #2
From the ungovernables
Detained by the police at 12 and L
If you agree with us please add your voice
Fuck Trump
Fuck all politicians
With a country built on white supremacy and patriarchy
No politician can serve anything else
That goes for his police pawns, too
We may be arrested here today
But we will not be silenced
We call on communities threatened by Trump to defend themselves against fascists and racists
We won’t back down and we will only grow stronger
If you hear this, we call on you to become ungovernable
And build a new world in the ashes of the old
Mic check
Statement #3
From the ungovernables at 12 and L
If you agree with what we say, add your voice
Well, we’re going to jail
But we aren’t going silently
As we’re seeing today, Trump indicates a new level of repression
But the tide of repression has been rising for some time
2 million in prison, a new Jim Crow Surveillance on your email, surveillance on your phone, surveillance in your home
All governments imprison and police
Cops love Trump, but to get rid of both, we have to get rid of the government
From the threat of white supremacists to the threat of the police
Our safety lies in building bonds with each other, outside of state control
For freedom, for anarchy
Calling for No Peaceful Transition, Crimethink posted the following statement:
#DisruptJ20: Call for a bold mobilization against the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017
On Friday, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as President of the United States. We call on all people of good conscience to join in disrupting the ceremonies. If Trump is to be inaugurated at all, let it happen behind closed doors, showing the true face of the security state Trump will preside over. It must be made clear to the whole world that the vast majority of people in the United States do not support his presidency or consent to his rule. 
Trump stands for tyranny, greed, and misogyny. He is the champion of neo-nazis and white Nationalists, of the police who kill the Black, Brown and poor on a daily basis, of racist border agents and sadistic prison guards, of the FBI and NSA who tap your phone and read your email. He is the harbinger of even more climate catastrophe, deportation, discrimination, and endless war. He continues to deny the existence of climate change, in spite of all the evidence, putting the future of the whole human race at stake. The KKK, Vladimir Putin, Golden Dawn, and the Islamic State all cheered his victory. If we let his inauguration go unchallenged, we are opening the door to the future they envision.
Trump’s success confirms the bankruptcy of representative democracy. Rather than using the democratic process as an alibi for inaction, we must show that no election could legitimize his agenda. … If there is going to be positive change in this society, we have to make it ourselves, together, through direct action.
From day one, the Trump presidency will be a disaster. #DisruptJ20 will be the start of the resistance. We must take to the streets and protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, rise up, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear. The parade must be stopped. We must delegitimize Trump and all he represents. It’s time to defend ourselves, our loved ones, and the world that sustains us as if our lives depend on it—because they do. 

In Washington, DC 

DC will not be hospitable to the Trump administration. Every corporation must openly declare whether they side with him or with the people who will suffer at his hands. Thousands will converge and demonstrate resistance to the Trump regime. Save the date. #DisruptJ20

Around the US

If you can’t make it to Washington, DC on January 20, take to the streets wherever you are. We call on our comrades to organize demonstrations and other actions for the night of January 20. There is also a call for a general strike to take place. Organize a walkout at your school now. Workers: call out sick and take the day off. No work, no school, no shopping, no housework. #DisruptJ20

Around the World

If you are living outside the US, you can take action at US embassies, borders, or other symbols of neocolonial power. Our allegiance is not to “making America great again,” but to all of humanity and the planet. #DisruptJ20
Spread the word. Join the fight. #DisruptJ20 Facebook:

 All over the world street actions were only getting stronger. Many were confounded by the violence they saw in the streets, the arrests, and lack of messaging. The same could not be said for the Women’s Marches, that some five million people around the world participated in, supporting an abundant image of what can be.

Women March.
The next morning we took the subway in with thousands and thousands of people throughout Washington. A festive feeling filled the air.
A sea of pink pussy cat hats filled the street. The word “pussy” and or references to it were everywhere. “Eat more pussy”, “Our pussies are not for grabbing”, “Pussy grabs back,” signs everywhere, many accompanying images of cats or women or the statue of liberty with the president groping it.
“Its just a party,” smiled a young woman carrying a sign with the words: ‘Socialist, Feminist Black Girl Magic!”
Another carried a sign connecting struggles, declaring: “Rosa didn’t stand for this and I won’t stand for it!”
Others had a more sartorial tone.
“Mitch McConnell I wish your mother had had birth control.”
“You’re so vein, you probably think this protest is about you.”
“I’m so angry I made this sign.”
“We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter.”

"You can't comb over misogyny."

"I would call Trump a cunt but he has no warmth or depth."
A young boy carried a sign declaring:
“Hands off my uterus.”

Others were somewhat tragicomic.

"Menopausal women nostalgic for choice."
Others were more humble.
“Love thy neighbor” read Eli’s sign.
His mom Karina carried a sign with the words, “SAD!”
That seemed to say it all.
Eli’s cousin Chlou, a seventeen year old college senior explained: “I marching because we are women.  I have a right to health care. I want a right to my body.”
“I’m glad to be here with my nieces who I hope can grow up in a better world than this,” explained Caroline Waterlow, walking with our kids and their mom Caroline.

My heros and sistas in action!

Amazing energy was everywhere. “Racist sexist anti-gay. Donald trump go away!” people screamed.
At the mall, members of ACT UP and Rise and Resist chanted: “Women we love, under attack, what do we do? ACT UP fight back!”
When ACT UP joined the LGBT march in Washington in 1987, they transformed the way we understand queer people in their rights in the US, changing both laws and social mores.  The same thing felt like it was happening on Sunday.
Throughout the crowd of people, a feeling pervaded the space that something extraordinary was happening.  A movement was awakening, connecting the Suffragettes who marched during President Wilson’s inauguration in 1913 and those wearing their pink pussy cat hats fighting for reproductive autonomy.

A group of young women were singing and chanting, smiling and inviting everyone to join them:
“no pushy grabbing. no patriarchy, no fascist usa!”
There were so many people I could not move for portions of the day, as reports indicated that crowd estimates were far higher than originally expected, hundreds and hundreds of thousands higher. Some said five million marched worldwide, a million in DC alone.
Looking up, I saw Angela Davis speaking and I was filled with happiness to be there with her.
Some grumbled about the speeches and the gap between the people wanting to march and the speakers droning on and on.  It created a feeling of a gap between the body of the movement and its head. But we’d always rather have more people than we want.
“Let us march! Let us march!”  we screamed and so we did.
Without police in sight, the people coordinated their own paths to the White House.  There were too many people to go just one way. So people found other routes.
As the march opened up around 2:45 waves of bodies filled the streets, row after row of streets filled with marching bands, pink hats, grandmoms, kids, people smiling, dads, their daughters, sisters; women’s rights are human rights, people calling for more education, and interconnection between waves of movements. If anything, this movement is intersectional, with links between women and healthcare -  “healthcare is infrastructure” declared another sign – connections between Black Lives Matter and civil liberties groups and so on.
By the end of the day, I never found the kids. But Caroline texted me saying our bus was about to go. So I ran down the mall, four miles in total, past street after street, making their way as I made mine.
I have never seen so many people filling the entire mall, not at the aids quilt display in 1996, the IMF actions in 2000, antiwar march in 2002, never.
A new spaces was opening.
Arriving at the bus, it seemed my whole neighborhood was in there, kids from all over Brooklyn, many of whom I’ve known since they were first born. They were there with their families, some first time protesters, many veterans, everyone was glad they had gotten on board and spoken out.
The same sentiment filled Judson Church in NYC where my whole congregation seemed to have just gotten back from DC.
Micah suggested the joy of the moment pointed to where we need to go, defiant pleasure, and joy among bodies over time.
Somehow we’d make it, if we kept on connecting with each other. Maybe that was the better storyline we were all looking for.
Returning home, Caroline Shepard posted a link stating that the march was the largest in US history: “What this proves, more than a repudiation of Trump, is that women are tired of politically taking the back stage. The time has come to move our issues and power to the front.

"This is just the beginning!" women screamed @ The Mall (Washington DC).  Its just the beginning.


Not as many people attended the inauguration.
Gary Armstrong tweeted
I'm told that this REAL picture is VERY upsetting to @PressSec & @POTUS so whatever you do, DO not SHARE this photo.
 Here are some of my pictures from the rally in NYC Thursday, the Inauguration zap, the street clashes, and the women's march.

Scenes from a very strange weekend and a march for the ages.
Always glad to be back home. 

ACT UP New York
January 24 at 2:50pm
"That's what a long-term survivor does: We use our experience to train the next generation. I'm very proud I'm doing that; we're going to be fighting side-by-side, old and new activists all fighting the same fight." Thanks for leading the way, Mark Milano! And thanks to all who disrupted, including Tim Murphy and Benjamin Heim Shepard! #resist


People With HIV Infiltrate Trump Inauguration, Causing Disruptions During Oath of Office
Tim Murphy and Mark Milano Explain Why They Took Action

January 24, 2017

 1  |  2  |  Next > 

Courtesy of Mark Milano.


No comments:

Post a Comment