Early Friday morning, social movements from across the country converged in numerous locations across Washington, D.C., including 14 different “security” checkpoints, to shut down, slow and disrupt the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. From Standing Rock Indigenous water protectors to Movement for Black Lives organizers, activists locked down and staged blockades to delegitimize a ceremony for a figure who rose to power on a tide of white nationalism and neo-fascism.
The large numbers took action in step with people across the United States and world.
“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,” declared the Washington, D.C.-based Disrupt J20 Collective in a call-to-action released ahead of Thursday. “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.”
(Photo Credit: It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance / Grassroots Global Justice Alliance)
AlterNet asked activists why they decided to put their bodies on the line. “My message is, don’t be afraid,” said Kandi Mossett, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network who traveled from Standing Rock to Washington, D.C. to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration. “Any time we make our voices heard, we’re not guaranteed to win our fight, but we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, if we don’t try we are guaranteed to fail. We are not afraid. We can all stand together and have unity.”
“On this inauguration day, we are making sure that we are visible and are being heard, as we understand the impacts of climate change on the frontlines,” continued Mossett, who is participating in the It Takes Roots delegation of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. “It is hard to describe being in a frontline community—the social impacts, the destruction that comes with the fossil fuel industry, all the violence. The abuses that go hand-in-hand with mother earth. We experience them firsthand. The Donald Trumps of the world don’t ever have to experience the pain and violence of the fossil fuels industry.”
“They need to hear from grassroots people,” Mossett told AlterNet. “If we have to travel all the way here to meet them where they are more comfortable, we will do that.”
Department of Energy disruption with Indigenous women leaders, veterans, climate and housing activists coming together. (Photo Credit: It Takes Roots to Grow the Resistance / Grassroots Global Justice Alliance)
“I am in tears. I am so honored to have co-organized the ‘Communities Under Attack Fight Back’ block to uplift Muslim resistance, immigrant resistance, Jewish resistance,” said Darakshan Raja, founder of the Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum and co-director of the Washington Peace Center.
“For now, a day that I was afraid of is giving me more power than ever,” said Raja.
Groups centering immigrant, Muslim and Jewish resistance came together under the banner of ‘Communities Under Attack Fight Back’ to blockade a checkpoint to the inauguration in the early morning. (Photo credit: Mijente)
“The threats of mass deportation, the dismantling of Obamacare, the registration of Muslims and the criminalization of women’s health, are loud and clear,” said Black Lives Matter DC, Baltimore BLOC, and the Movement for Black Lives in a statement. “Black people and other people of color are being targeted by vigilantes, our places of worship are being burned, our children are being attacked at school and the promise of more ‘law and order’ policing leaves us even more vulnerable to police terror.”
Black Lives Matter DC, Baltimore BLOC, and the Movement for Black Lives shut down a checkpoint. (Photo credit: Disrupt J20)
— DCMediaGroup (@DCMediaGroup) January 20, 2017
“Trump stands for tyranny, greed, and misogyny,” said the Disrupt J20 Collective. “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.”
“If there is going to be a positive change in this society,” the collective continued, “we have to make it ourselves, together, through direct action.”
(Photo credit: Disrupt J20)
Protests will continue to sweep Washington, DC and the United States throughout the weekend. Melissa Miles from It Takes Roots told AlterNet that she will be among those preparing to continue to mobilize in the days and years ahead. “I’m a grassroots feminist because I see the innate dignity in all life,” she said. “Because those who have suffered the most deserve the most to live happy healthy lives, because as long as I live I will fight for justice for those who have been denied it.”
Thuy Nguyen, a member of Iraq Veteran Against the War, told AlterNet that she took part in the disruptions “to stand in solidarity with my fellow brothers and sisters in the growing resistance, to get the conversation started that change needs to happen.”
Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.