On Thursday, January 19th, I got an unexpected text from a fellow activist. She needed a ride to the “DisruptJ20” event. I had already planned to be a driver, but did not expect to actually have to drive folks to the meet site. It was no big deal and I took a detour to pick them up before heading to the site. Once we got there we met the another group of activists and headed to DC.
After about two hours on the road, we arrived at our quarters for the evening, a church that had given their space to the activists for the evening. After a few hours of fitful sleep, my alarm went off at 4:30AM on January 20th.
After a quick breakfast, we reconvened with our group and a group of activists from North Carolina with a group called “Redneck Revolt”. I’m not too familiar with this group, but it sounds like an effort to get rural voters to start voting and acting in their economic self-interest again. It sounds like a good idea, but I see flaws that I will explore in a later post.
A few of us went to another activists car to grab water, and then we began what be a common theme of the day–walking. Our first destination was Logan Circle, where the anarchist “Black Bloc” were staging.
Now, you may be asking how I got stuck with the “Black Bloc”, and I think it was confusion on my part and the part of our main local organizer. I was supposed to be elsewhere, and could have made a good rally point at McPherson Square, the designated “safe space” for activists.
I was both energized and frightened by what I saw. Energized by hearing chants of “No fascist U.S.A” and “Black Lives Matter”, but also frighted by the seemingly random destruction I saw; store windows being smashed, newspaper machines being thrown into the streets, etc.
When I saw the riot police, I had enough. I told the activist I was paired off with that I was not proceeding any further. We let the police herd the other protesters while we stood on the sidewalk.
So now we had another issue, we had also lost the rest of our group. I suggested that we head back to where the event had started. She agreed, and we headed back to Logan Circle. A few minutes after sitting down, we were directed to McPherson Square. We were essentially retracing steps; we even saw folks cleaning up from the march we had been on!
There we found a few of our ranks, and I had time to grab lunch. Our lead organizer was OK, but we were still missing several members. One of our missing members happened to be one of my passengers, so locating him was of critical importance! He was found, after much walking, at a co-working space.
That gave us an opportunity to rest and hydrate a bit. And after a few hours we began the walk to the church, and then to my car. Around 8:15PM, my two companions were dropped off at their house, and around 8:30 on the 20th, I arrived back at my apartment.
What I think we, and other activists did, especially the “Black Bloc” is announce to Trump that we are ready! On Friday, store windows were smashed, soon it could be a Muslim processing center. On Friday, seven of the twelve checkpoints for the Inauguration were blocked; soon it could be an immigrant neighborhood that Immigration and Customs is trying to conduct a sweep in. On Friday, a limousine was set on fire; soon it could be a truck carrying the materials for Trump’s wall. I’d be following these from afar, then closing in to photograph both the actions and the interactions with law enforcement.
But, this kind of direct action may not be necessary, if legislative actions are taken to resist the most extreme elements of Trump’s agenda. Perhaps a warning has also been sent to the Democrats then, resist Trump’s extremism–or other people will!