In DC, demonstrations have been constant—but are they resistance for resistance’s sake?by Jessica Abrahams / February 24, 2017 / Leave a comment
Just a month ago, businessman Donald Trump stood on the steps of Washington DC’s majestic Capitol Building and, hand on Bible, swore to preserve, defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. Large crowds (though not as large as he later claimed) had gathered on the National Mall to celebrate the inauguration of perhaps the most controversial President-Elect in modern American history. They cheered, applauded and chanted his name.
In the surrounding streets, others protested. Members of the anti-war Answer Coalition, Black Lives Matter, the Socialist Workers’ Party, LGBT organisations, climate change activists—dozens of organisations representing different concerns, and thousands of individuals, marched peacefully near the Mall or attempted to disrupt the inauguration ceremony. A small handful of those protesting became violent. A group with their faces covered stormed towards the parade route, smashing windows and setting a car on fire before being stopped by police with pepper spray.
That was day one. The following day, an estimated half a million people marched along the same roads to demand the protection of women’s rights under the Trump administration, including reproductive rights and protection from sexual violence.
In the weeks since then, the protests have barely let up. On Monday, thousands gathered in cities across the US to mark President’s Day, an annual public holiday, with chants of “Not My President.” As part of this, a march took place in the streets outside the White House.
But although momentum and dissent is still strong, many are beginning to question where it is going and what it can achieve.
I arrived in Washington, DC, on Sunday, 22nd January—two days after the inauguration—to a city laden with a confused mingling of messages. In the streets surrounding the Mall, banners congratulating the new president hung from the buildings. Stalls selling Trump t-shirts and inauguration day sweaters still lined the pavements. But sodden, trampled cardboard signs bearing slogans such as “This Pussy Grabs Back” (a reference to Trump’s boast about grabbing women “by the pussy”) and “The Future is Female” were left lying along the roadside. Others had been carefully propped up on walls and park benches, preserving their messages for longer. A Starbucks near the parade route had a smashed window from where rioters had attacked it as…