Anti-Trump March Turns into Pro-Clinton Charade

More reports from post-election anti-Trump protests below.

A protest march that started at the new Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, DC, on the night of Saturday, Nov. 12 and snaked its way through several blocks of the city was not a protest against deportations. Nor was it a protest against police violence or a protest against America’s endless wars. It was not a protest against an unfair economic system or a protest against authoritarianism, or even a plea for empathy and compassion.

If the participants in the protest march were serious about these issues, the same people would have been in the streets of Washington and cities and towns across the nation expressing their disgust during Barack Obama’s two-term presidency, a period in which a record number of people were deported, a frightening time in which the White House assumed even greater autocratic powers, and a period in which the U.S. military continued to kill people, without interruption, in other countries.

A group of anti-Trump protesters, Hillary Clinton supporters rally outside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC./Photo by John Stanton, BuzzFeed News
A group of anti-Trump protesters, Hillary Clinton supporters rally outside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC./Photo by John Stanton, BuzzFeed News

If they truly cared about life-affirming policies, one would have expected the people at the Saturday night march to have taken to the streets to protest Hillary Clinton if she had won last Tuesday. But it would be folly to expect middle class liberals to protest Clinton after a political campaign in which they painted Trump and Green Party nominee Jill Stein as the only candidates worthy of scorn. The people I spoke with at the march appeared perplexed when I asked them if they would be in the streets protesting if Clinton had won the election. Their expressions said it all: “Are you crazy? Of course not!”

It was only five years ago when the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement presented an indictment of both Democratic and Republican party officials for their culpability in a rigged economic system. OWS resonated with millions, but its ideals were quickly forgotten. Except for the occasional mic check refrain, it was as if Occupy had never happened as the protesters marched on Saturday night. The marchers seemed unaware of what a real democracy — political and economic — looks like. They were more interested in image over substance.

Marching in Democratic Party Circles

Pro-Hillary Clinton chants — “we’re still with her” and “she won the popular vote” and “when they go low, we go high” — resounded at various points during the march, a soul-crushing sound given the horrific policies Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had delivered since 2001.

The march also had a noticeable authoritarian vibe, with white people yelling at other marchers, including Black participants, not to participate in certain chants — “We reject the president-elect” was shouted down by participants as anti-democratic — because they worried such words would alienate any Trump supporters or other people within earshot.

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Demonstrators rally against the election of Donald Trump in Washington, DC/Photo by Mark Hand

After a campaign of Democrats constantly comparing Trump to history’s worst leaders, there wasn’t a sense of urgency one would have expected. Many of the marchers had already internalized the Democratic Party establishment’s call for national unity. Seriousness and resolve proved difficult to detect among the participants despite the claimed threats posed by a Trump presidency.

The march was eerily reminiscent of 2008 when the Democratic Party faithful serenaded Barack Obama with love. Obama was following in a long line of Democrats who would bring more of the same neoliberal, war-like ways to Washington, and yet they adored him because he was charismatic and polished. The march also was similar to the attempt by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to curb political activism through their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the National Mall. For many in the crowd, the march was probably the first time they had attended a political event since the faux Comedy Central rally of 2010.

Large numbers expressed genuine fear about what a Trump presidency would bring to the country, while others expressed grief – using the words “anger” or “rage” were verboten during the march — that the Democrats had experienced such a terrible loss.

One Hotel, Three Protests and an Agent Provocateur

By Anne Meador

The barricades and police officers stationed in front of the Trump International Hotel seem likely to be fixtures for the next four years. The brick plaza of the old Post Office building, which was leased to Donald Trump’s eponymous hotel chain, is a spacious and inviting site for demonstrations. Paying guests, who are already too scarce, must put up with chants and speeches long into the night, since all anti-Trump protests lead eventually to the Hotel.

On Friday night, a group of about fifty young people clustered in front of the police barricades taking turns speaking with a bullhorn. In spite of it, their voices were barely audible outside of the tight circle. On the outskirts, photographers shivered in gusts of cold wind.

A smaller group approached around 9:30pm and momentarily riled up the protesters, chanting, “Not My President!” and “Fuck your wall!” A couple of women were draped in Palestinian flags. A few young men were pumped up and seemed bored by the quiet speeches. One, who appeared to be white and possibly high, tried to lead the others away on a march. “Let’s take the streets!” he urged. A few organizers of the already assembled group, who were black, calmly confronted him, telling him to respect their protest.

A protesters puts out a restraining hand on a colleague provoked by a pro-Trump provocateur./Photo by Anne Meador
A protester puts a restraining hand on a colleague incensed by a pro-Trump provocateur./Photo by Anne Meador

A middle-aged white man heckled the group. “I hope you get run over, you pieces of shit, all of you!” he yelled. A protester was provoked and got up in the heckler’s face, angrily denouncing him. A comrade occasionally put out his arm to restrain him. Eventually, a young woman approached and matter-of-factly told them to stop it, in her words, “it isn’t worth it.” As if a spell had been broken, the combatants backed off. (The heckler professed to be a retired police officer but has been seen many times shadowing protests. Some protesters have pegged him as one of several ill-concealed plainclothes cops who monitor demonstrations.)

At about 10pm, a large group, charged with energy, marched down Pennsylvania Ave. and stopped in the street in front of the hotel. “Fuck Trump!” and “He’s not my president!” they chanted. After several minutes, they moved on to disrupt Chinatown and block traffic in the 3rd Street tunnel.

A local TV news van lingered in the quiet aftermath, packing up. The button that bleeps out profanity on air had gotten a work out, the crew said. Even so, the producer had cut their live feed early.

Shock, fear and rage

By John Zangas

The morning after the presidential election shocked and dismayed many as the results came in. Before daybreak press trucks lined Pennsylvania Avenue under a steady drizzle.

By Wednesday night hundreds of protesters stood in defiance of the president elect at the front doors of Trump International Hotel in a tide of solidarity and resistance. They chanted protest catch phrases from their respective causes. Their groups were suddenly intersected in a common cause against a shared opponent.

In anticipation of growing security concerns, police barricades were put up with police and guards at every door.

Trump Hotel in DC had been a magnet for discontent during his campaign as Trump’s remarks were spread on news channels, but with his election win, it had over night become a lightning rod for discontent.

30665134270_481a53d600_zProtesters included many groups taking issue with Trump’s ideology as his vision exposed what America would look like over the course of his campaign.

On the sidewalk, protesters expressed shock, fear, anger, and even rage, that what had seemed an improbable and unlikely rise to power, had now become a reality.

Wednesday night, two young women concerned with women’s healthcare rights, expressed concern whether Roe v. Wade could be eroded or overturned as Trump was expected to appoint an conservative Supreme Court Justice to the position vacated when Scalia died last February.

They stood together with a sign reading “Donald Trump Will Never Be My President” and “Dump Trump.” Siri Brudaveld was concerned about his Presidency because of his comments about women. “I feel unsafe in my own country…  Somebody who has been accused over and over again and has been recorded saying inappropriate things about women and towards women is in the White House.”

Another young woman, Elizabeth Figueroa, said that she was “very frightened and sad” about the election result. “My biggest fear is that he is going to reverse Roe v. Wade and take away rights that women have earned over the last fifty years,” she said.

Trumps insistence that he would build a wall to keep immigrants out and deport Hispanics and Muslims drew immigration groups to the White House on the same night.

Omar Marroquin stood holding a sign reading, “Immigrants Pay More Taxes than Donal Trump,” which simultaneously struck at two key issues surrounding Trump’s Tax returns and whether working immigrants will be permitted to to remain here.

30665132070_9ef32bea5b_z“They still have federal taxes taken out of their checks, they still have local taxes taken out, most of the time paying those taxes because of circumstances,” he said regarding immigrants who are in the U.S. holding down jobs for their families and sending their wages home to support them.

“He has demonized immigrants and made a following that believes that immigrants should be sent back home when people are out of here out of necessity,” said Marroquin.

By Thursday night more groups descended on Trump International Hotel, sparking several fights between protesters and Trump supporters who taunted them for their chants, “He’s Not My President” and “Dump Trump.”

One by one they spoke on a bull horn, of their individual concerns, calling him out policy changes they feel will encourage mysogyny, bigotry, and sexism. But it seemed there would be little they could do with certainty to change the election result. What was certain was that the anti-Trump sentiment and protests weren’t going to leave Washington any time soon.