NEW YORK — As thousands of protesters begin pouring into Washington to protest the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, others have planned simultaneous demonstrations across the United States.
“There have been a wave of protests and walkouts across the country since Trump was announced as president-elect, mostly by students not part of any organization, including even high-schoolers,” Danya Zituni, a Students for a Democratic Society organizer at the University of South Florida in Tampa, told MintPress News.
“On Inauguration Day, we hope to seize the momentum of this righteous anger, and channel it into organizing.”
“So far, we have 25 SDS chapters and affiliates from Chicago to Minneapolis to Tallahassee that will be participating, and hosting student walkouts which culminate with a rally and/or march,” Zituni said.
“Students have been doing massive on the ground outreach to agitate for walkouts, uniting with progressive faculty and workers on campus, and preparing to disrupt operations on campuses everywhere.”
Along with more than 600 women’s marches planned for Saturday, as well as a call for a women’s strike from paid and unpaid labor on both days, these efforts could make the inaugural weekend one of the largest political mobilizations in U.S. history.
According to one count by USA Today, demonstrations will occur across all 50 states, as well as in 32 foreign countries.
‘Make the country ungovernable’
“We have to make the country ungovernable,” Joe Iosbaker, a spokesperson for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, told MintPress. “The people have done it before, and we can do it again.”
“There are multiple rallies and actions happening in the Loop at that time,” Iosbaker said. “Our plan is to hold our rally and then join in and march together with the other forces.”
Nina Macapinlac, the northeast regional coordinator of BAYAN USA, a nationwide Filipino community group, called the JCPA a “pro-people formation of progressive grassroots organization in Jersey City that takes collective action for positive transformation in our communities.”
The mobilization, she said, will focus not only on the inauguration itself, but also on local solutions to challenges posed by the next administration.
“We will deliver our tactical demands in a letter to City Hall to implement more legally binding protections beyond the existing pro-immigrant resolutions in coordination with a set of policy recommendations formulated by the NJ Alliance for Immigrant Justice,” Macapinlac told MintPress.
“The idea is that the inauguration is being taken back by the people of Jersey City and that we will hold our own inauguration that will delineate the program that will truly serve the interests of the masses.”
‘No position to denounce foreign meddling’
Grassroots activists across the country have protested the president-elect for his incendiary statements and proposals, with many also stressing his continuities from the policies of earlier administrations.
“Trump’s campaign promised to create a ‘Muslim registry’ in order to ban us from entering the country, which strongly compels me to organize and defend my community,” Zituni, of the Students for a Democratic Society, said.
“However, a registry for immigrants from Muslim majority countries actually already existed under Obama, called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. Only after 14 years of constant organizing by groups like Arab American Action Network and Desis Rising Up and Moving was it successfully dismantled.”
Since Trump’s election, Democratic elected officials, liberal media, and entertainment personalities and their supporters have instead targeted him with allegations of collusion with Russia during the presidential election.
Some of these figures plan protests of their own around the inauguration, with messaging largely rejected by other organizers.
“The claims by the intelligence agencies, the Democrats, and the media aligned with them are almost entirely propaganda,” Iosbaker said.
“The CIA works for the president, and Obama is no doubt concerned about the terribly weakened condition of the Democratic Party. That is the most likely explanation of the roots of the claim of Russian hacking.”
Zituni agreed. “The U.S. government, and especially the CIA, is in no position to denounce foreign meddling in elections with their hideous and absolutely unparalleled track record of aggressive coups and other anti-democratic interventions,” she said.
‘Never the people’s to begin with’
While Trump’s election is the impetus behind each protest, the focus on him as a political target in his own right, as opposed to broader systems, will vary.
“Nationally, it seems very focused on Trump and channeling the anger of many people that he won,” Macapinlac said. But in Jersey City, she added, “Trump is not explicitly mentioned because the issue extends beyond him merely winning to the fact that the imperialist, reactionary elections were never the people’s to begin with.”
Since the start of Trump’s campaign, Zituni said, SDS “mainly emphasized that is important to recognize that he is a rallying point for white supremacists whose bigoted agenda must be met with broad and militant opposition everywhere.” But since the election, she added, the group has “repeatedly pointed out the fact that mass deportations, border militarization, Islamophobic and anti-refugee attacks have already occurred under both Republican and Democrat presidencies.”
In Chicago, Iosbaker said, “Our point is that Trump is a problem, but one terrible president is not the problem.”
With hundreds of thousands likely to protest nationally, many for the first time, the content of many demonstrations may be mixed, perhaps confusingly so.
But the outpouring offers hope that a renewed movement for political change could effectively challenge the new administration and mount long-term struggles reaching beyond it.
“In this current moment, it is critical that people realize we have more in common to fight for and that with unity comes strength,” Macapinlac said.
And both Trump’s record unpopularity and many of his promises — from sweeping deportations of immigrants to approval of the Dakota Access pipeline — could spark widespread discontent throughout his presidency.
“A truly massive movement of millions in the streets is the only appropriate response to the election,” Iosbaker said. “It’s the only way to beat back the attacks coming down.”