Welcome to our continuous coverage of the mobilization against Trump’s inauguration! We’re updating nonstop all day, providing firsthand reports and analysis of the events in DC and other cities around the US and the world. Please send us field reports, photos, and footage at J20@crimethinc.com.
Tonight, at the end of a long day of successful actions against Donald Trump and the rise of fascism, fascist media personality Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at the University of Washington in Seattle. Hundreds of antifascists showed up and courageously blocked the entrances in the face of considerable violence from police and fascists. At first, the anti-fascists were outnumbered, but as the less fanatical adherents of the alt-right gave up and an anti-Trump march arrived from elsewhere in Seattle, the balance of power shifted. A couple hundred Milo fans were able to enter the building, while confrontations continued outside.
As Milo began speaking, one of his supporters shot one of the protesters in the abdomen. The police rushed in to clear the area but did not detain the shooter. Initially, some social media falsely reported that the shooting victim was a fascist, but we have confirmed that it was a protester. The victim is currently in surgery. It is unclear whether he will survive.
Over the Seattle Police Department scanner, it was reported that, based on video footage, the shooter was “an Asian [sic] male in his 50s, approximately 5’7” and 190 pounds, wearing glasses, a yellow Champion baseball hat, and a black leather jacket over a maroon shirt.” [We caution readers not to take police reports, even internal ones, as a necessarily reliable source.]
After learning about shooting, Milo returned to stage and said that he thought the show should go on: “If we don’t continue, they have won.” The crowd cheered.
Police told the audience to remove their pro-Trump hats and other paraphernalia before leaving, and escorted them out of Kane Hall through an underground parking garage. About 250 people remained outside the building.
In a press conference, the police bragged that they maintained “adequate security” for the event, and asserted that it was important to them to work with Yiannopoulos to make it possible for him to engage in “free speech.”
The shooting confirms that Yiannopoulos is not simply engaged in speaking, but is actively working to create momentum for a fascist movement that will not stop short of murder.
Today has been a day of fierce resistance across the globe. Ordinary people like you and me showed up in force, taking enormous risks and bravely helping each other in the face of brutal repression.
From across the US, we hear reports of anti-inaugural actions. In Chicago, the morning was started with a banner drop. Later, people shut down the arterial Lake Shore Drive, and at least one bank was smashed.
In San Francisco, several folks locked down the Caltran train tracks in the city for 3 hours, while several #NoDAPL protestors blockaded the entrance of the Wells Fargo headquarters. Blockades also appeared at Uber headquarters (the CEO of Uber is a Trump supporter) and the Israeli consulate. A total of 29 arrests had been made at the time of this writing.
Folks in Seattle got the privilege of attempting to shut down a speaking event at the University of Washington by Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopolous. While the cops largely held the upper hand, and Milo made it into the venue, his personal cameraman was attacked, and his camera equipment was smashed.
Things in Portland, Oregon started off with a mass flag burning, and a failure to appear by the folks who had tried to organize a mass extinguishing of this action…
In New Orleans there was a very large black bloc that moved through the French Quarter and an adjoining business district, causing a lot of damage. Police made a lot of arrests, and at least one protestor is hospitalized from injuries inflicted by the police.
At the time of this writing, hundreds of comrades are arrested, and we don’t have a complete count of injuries. Watch for information soon on how to help donate to bail funds and help support the people who have been out there risking everything for us.
In 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, Hitler and Stalin made a treaty promising peace between Germany and the USSR and carving up Eastern Europe. How could the champions of fascism and communism reach such an agreement? In fact, the two dictators shared a single agenda, aspiring to carve up the world between totalitarian empires. Yet achieving that agenda made war inevitable: Germany invaded Russia in 1941.
In 2016, Vladimir Putin supported Donald Trump’s bid for the Presidency of the United States. Why would a former KGB officer back a Republican candidate running on a nationalist platform? In fact, Trump and Putin share the same vision of a world divided into xenophobic enclaves governed by autocratic strongmen. It serves both of their agendas to make sure the only opposition is between rival nationalisms and no other alternative is thinkable. Yet once this vision is realized, it will only be a matter of time before there is another war.
As anarchists, we oppose unthinking adherence to all leaders, ideologies, and wars. Our only hope is to build ties with comrades on the other side of every border—national borders, religious differences, ethnic lines, and more—so that what takes place is not war but revolution.
Anarchists were taking action in solidarity with people all around the world against globalized capitalism long before “fair trade” became a right-wing talking point. Read Trump and the Legacy of the Anti-Globalization Movement, for example.
During the historic protests against the Summit of the World Trade Organization in 1999, graffiti appeared in Seattle declaring “WE ARE WINNING.” It is up to anarchists and other ordinary people, not billionaires, to win the struggle against globalized capitalism and rescue the majority of humanity from drudge labor and financial distress. Today, once again, as downtown DC continues to burn following the disruption of Trump’s inaugural spectacle, we anarchists can say again what we said in Seattle: WE ARE WINNING!
As we post this, at 9 pm, clashes are still taking place in downtown Washington, DC, with police showering protesters and bystanders with pepper spray.
The sort of uncompromising and total resistance that began with Ferguson (as a reaction to the reformism of Occupy) and spread to Standing Rock now seems to be about to generalize to other sectors of society, including more privileged demographics. Many of those who thronged the streets in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere after Trump’s election were not from the most marginalized sectors of society—yet they feel alienated enough from the world Trump and his henchmen intend to impose upon them that they are prepared to revolt in a way that breaks with traditional forms of docile protest. This is a good thing: everyone stands to gain from the abolition of capitalism and the state, and it will take many people from many different walks of life to transform this society.
Of course, whenever clashes like this take place, many people who are accustomed to accepting state violence as a routine fact of life express confusion or dismay at people defending themselves. Here is an array of resources explaining why we believe people have the right to stand up for themselves, even in ways that the state delegitimizes as violent.
“We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth.”
— Donald Trump’s inauguration speech
Make no mistake: Trump will not make the US safer from the attacks of Islamic fundamentalists. Rather, his xenophobic and repressive policies will drive more Muslims into making violent attacks, which—Trump calculates—will drive more conservative voters to support him. On the other side of the Atlantic, Marine le Pen and al-Baghdadi have a similar relationship, depending on each other’s hateful agendas to push French people into the fascist camp and Muslims into ISIS. Being enmeshed in a religious war is job security for demagogues.
Who, in fact, has been the only force capable of driving back the advance of ISIS in Syria? It hasn’t been the US-backed Syrian resistance forces, nor the Russian-backed Assad regime, nor the Turkish military, any other official state entity or religious faction. The most successful resistance to ISIS has been spearheaded by the defense forces of the autonomous region of Rojava—the closest thing to the anarchist position in the protracted Syrian struggle. Indeed, while right-wing trolls have hidden in their basements fomenting precisely the sort of hatred that gives rise to ethnic and religious conflicts, cynically sacrificing civilian casualties in these conflicts in order to solidify their grasp on power, anarchists like Michael Israel have given their lives to halt the advance of ISIS.
Ultimately, people of all faiths and perspectives must learn to coexist in peace, without the sort of competition for oppressive power that characterizes life in the US, Syria, and elsewhere. This is precisely the problem to which anarchists are addressing themselves.
These protests are not the first of their kind. Anarchists and other anti-authoritarians have made a point of opposing the inauguration of every president for decades:
- Whoever They Vote For, We Are Ungovernable: A History of Anarchist Counter-Inaugural Protest
- Five Principles of Direct Action: What We Can Learn from the 2001 Inauguration Protests
- No More Presidents: A Narrative from the 2005 Inauguration
It is also important to point out that anarchists also demonstrated about the inauguration of Barack Obama, especially his second inauguration. Anarchists are not militant supporters of Clinton—not the cannon fodder of the Democratic Party—but proponents of an entirely different political framework. In contrast to practically every group on the left, we had no incentive to give a free pass to his policies of deportation, war, and repression.
On the contrary—this tweet is a propaganda fail from the right.
Flagrant lying like this is fundamental to the right-wing program. They simply cannot admit that any ordinary person would want to take a stand against their supposedly populist program. Next time you hear allegations about protesters being paid, ask what evidence is being cited. Anyone who knows the participants in these protests knows that they are paying out of their pockets to be in DC, at tremendous risk to themselves, in order to do what they believe to be right—as an end in itself. That sets them apart from the police, who are just mercenaries who disclaim all responsibility for their actions, and from Trump supporters, who are supporting a billionaire in the deluded hope that he will improve their economic conditions—rather than just enriching himself further at their expense.
It is especially ironic that supporters of Donald Trump would allege that those who resist him are being paid by George Soros. Trump supporters are the ones supporting a billionaire intent on accumulating power for himself. They have to spread outright lies about the opposition to distract attention from the fact that they are openly taking the side of the ruling class. No conspiracy theory is necessary here: it’s all taking place right in front of our faces. The lines are drawn between the people and the toadies of the rich, and no lie can obscure who is who.
Let’s talk about the grassroots protesters who came to DC today, the ones who are not associated with any organization or party. They are not being paid by anyone. Historically, the only money that such protesters have received has come from lawsuit settlements: hush money paid by the DC police to cover up their own illegal activity. If you add up all the settlements paid out by the DC police department since the turn of the century, it totals well over $22 million. Think about that: in less than twenty years, the DC police have engaged in over $22 million worth of illegal activity—just counting the times they got caught. That’s hypocrisy for you: the authorities break the laws that they wrote themselves to the tune of millions and millions of dollars, under the pretense of enforcing them.
This tells you something about the nature of the state itself. The members of any other organization that were caught committing $22 million worth of violent criminal activity would go to prison, but police officers get promotions and awards and public relations campaigns. The police are simply the biggest gang—that’s the only thing that’s special about them. That’s why they get to call the shots.
No wonder so many of the people protesting in Washington, DC today consider the state to have no legitimacy. Like all ethical people, they are more concerned with abiding by their consciences than obeying the orders of jackbooted thugs.
It should be extravagantly clear that the people who are opposing Trump’s coronation in DC and elsewhere around the world are not simply disappointed supporters of Clinton or Sanders. On the contrary, the actions of the demonstrators express a fundamental loss of faith in representational politics, and a recognition that grassroots resistance and organizing offers the only way forward.
This is not a matter simply backing one of the other candidates for President. Amidst all the outrage about Trump’s picks for positions in his cabinet, there was little notice of the news that Clinton’s picks would simply have been Trump lite. And Sanders’ defeat merely saved him the ignominious misfortune of demonstrating once more that top-down socialist reform is doomed to fail in a global economy, as has already been adequately demonstrated by the fate of Syriza and other socialist parties that have come to power in the 20th century. There are some victories more humiliating than a thousand defeats.
The far right is desperately struggling to conceal the fact that the demonstrators are not just disappointed Clinton supporters, but opponents of the entire system that Trump and Clinton were competing to control. To admit that there are anarchists demonstrating today is to undermine much of Trump’s appeal: for Trump is only able to look good to his supporters by contrast with Clinton. Without Clinton, Trump is just another billionaire looking to enrich himself at the expense of ordinary people.
In Montréal, a night demo turned into a clash with police. 200 protesters first gathered at Square Phillips, one block from the US consulate. When they started marching, they did not make it to the consulate building, but rather marched against traffic on the main street, Rue Sainte-Catherine, mostly beautifying the city by putting up graffiti against patriarchy and calling for the city to burn.
There was a black bloc presence as well, carrying a banner reading “Fuck Trump” that was soon altered to read “Fuck Toute” (Fuck All).
As they reached the downtown west police station the demonstrators clashed with cops, who were pelted with plenty of rocks. Cops threw rocks back at the crowd which finally dispersed them all around the city. But they did not leave before the police station’s window got properly smashed.
All afternoon, the boom of concussion grenades like the ones fired in this video reverberated throughout downtown Washington, DC. Yet the DC police chief is denying that they employed them. Welcome to the post-truth world, in which the authorities lie blatantly to you about the violence they are inflicting on your own body.
From The Washington Post:
D.C. Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said officers arrested more than 90 people in connection with protests that turned violent and caused “significant damage to a number of blocks in our city.” He said officers handling the protests did not deploy either flash-bang or percussion grenades — used to disorient people in crowds — and that protesters had their own. But numerous Washington Post reporters saw officers throw such grenades.
See also: instagram.com/p/BPgk49hjbma
The violence we saw from the state in Washington, D.C. offers a glimpse into what the Trump presidency has in store. His plan is not to stabilize our society by improving everyone’s economic prospects, but to keep everyone under control by brute force. All his talk about standing up for working people is simply coded language for giving white workers preferential treatment in the brutal crackdowns to come. We may not be able to improve your economic standing, he is insinuating to white workers, but we can offer you an advantageous position in the distribution of violence.
Indeed, it takes a tremendous amount of routine violence to maintain the sort of dramatic imbalances of wealth and power that exist in this society. If a government were to direct that sort of violence against the working class as a whole, it would swiftly provoke massive unrest. Trump is banking on separating the working class into less targeted and more targeted groupings, so as to erode the kind of solidarity that could abolish the dramatic imbalances that keep most of us struggling to survive. Whiteness itself has its origins in these machinations: it is not a biological category, but a coalition of the privileged that can expand or contract as necessary.
But in directing brutal state repression against everyone who is resisting his ascent, Trump risks overextending and dragging more people into the conflict than the police and military can suppress by force alone. Whether he succeeds in imposing a totalitarian rule will be determined by how many people enter this struggle, and whether they are able to recognize themselves as sharing a common interest in the abolition of the prevailing order.
Every reactionary who has ever accused participants in black bloc actions of cowardice should watch this video in which a group of demonstrators who have been kettled by police charge the police line. If you think this is cowardice, we challenge you to take on armored thugs equipped with lethal weaponry, using only an umbrella!
This video shows clearly enough how the lines are drawn: the ugly, thoughtless violence of the police against the courage of those who want freedom for all. Let’s look out for each other in the face of their repression!
We consider the person who punched Richard Spencer in the face during the demonstrations in Washington, DC today to be a hero. Spencer and others like him are intent upon legitimizing the legacy of white supremacy in the United States–smoothing the way for even more violence to be inflicted on people of color. Putting the pieces in place to enable the police to intensify racist profiling, violence, and murders counts as an attack. An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us. Spencer got what was coming to him.
As people slowly filter out of the chaos of downtown Washington, D.C., we are passing the torch to the Midwest and west coast. Our actions in D.C. are a signal fire, seeking a response in kind. Let’s make this country ungovernable!
At 13th and K, a barricade has held for the last two hours. The police began indiscriminately firing flash grenades at people–mostly folks who had just left a permitted march. The black bloc created the barricade primarily to hold the intersection so the police could not advance on the permitted rally three blocks away.
People started a trash fire to protect the street, and an hour later moved the fire to a parked limousine–presumed to be secret service, who were also policing the area. About a thousand people were nearby when the engine blew up, but none were hurt.
At the same intersection, there are reports coming in that police threw a concussion grenade at a woman with a baby, but anarchists intervened and stopped its trajectory. Police are now moving in on all sides as two permitted rallies occur in the surrounding blocks, and multiple helicopters hover overhead.
Across the world, people are rising up in solidarity with anti-inaugural protestors and against the hateful agenda Trump represents.
In Montréal, a crowd of anti-fascist and anti-racist initiatives gathered and marched through downtown to the US consulate, where they burned the US flag while chanting, “Every struggle is a police struggle.” Demonstrators also occupied Complexe Desjardins, an upscale downtown shopping center, where they disrupted lunchtime shopping with lively chants and dancing. Expect more news from Montréal’s evening demos later tonight.
In Berlin, close to a thousand people gathered to protest the inauguration, under the slogan, “No to Global Trumpism.” Demonstrations targeted not just Trump, but all right-wing political parties and their policies of hatred.
In Hong Kong, two people were reported arrested during the demonstration, while one was arrested after chaining themselves to the railings of the US consulate.
In Manila, around three-hundred people marched on the US consulate and burned American flags. They were determined to challenge not just Trump, but also the US military presence in the Philippines.
Several hundred people also gathered for a small protest in Tokyo, Japan.
From the streets of DC, we call on people all around the US and the world to rise up now against the spread of global fascism. Now is the time, while we still have the initiative. Show everyone who is considering resisting that they will not be alone!
From DC to Oakland, from Athens to Cairo and São Paulo, from Kobane to Kuala Lumpur, we are facing the same global crisis and we have to create a global movement to abolish capitalism and render our communities ungovernable.
We hear that Jesse Jackson’s limousine was trashed in this morning’s actions. Although we don’t wish for anyone to be inconvenienced by the process of fighting against the white supremacy that is embodied in the state, least of all black people, we affirm that the limousine is a symbol of the kind of power that can never be evenly distributed.
The sort of uncompromising and total resistance that began with Ferguson (as a reaction to the reformism of Occupy) and spread to Standing Rock now seems to be about to generalize to other sectors of society, including more privileged demographics. Many of those who thronged the streets in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere after Trump’s election were hardly the most marginalized sectors of society—yet they feel alienated enough from the world Trump and his henchmen intend to impose upon them that they are prepared to revolt in a way that breaks with traditional forms of docile protest.
This is a good thing: it will take many people from many different walks of life to transform this society.
From a video taken inside the kettle at 12th and L Streets. Detainees, who have been held for hours, are currently being processed—some arrested and some released.
Below, a transcript of two of their statements:
From the ungovernables
Detained by the police at 12 and L
If you agree with us please add your voice
Fuck all politicians
With a country built on white supremacy and patriarchy
No politician can serve anything else
That goes for his police pawns, too
We may be arrested here today
But we will not be silenced
We call on communities threatened by Trump to defend themselves against fascists and racists
We won’t back down and we will only grow stronger
If you hear this, we call on you to become ungovernable
And build a new world in the ashes of the old
From the ungovernables at 12 and L
If you agree with what we say, add your voice
Well, we’re going to jail
But we aren’t going silently
As we’re seeing today, Trump indicates a new level of repression
But the tide of repression has been rising for some time
2 million in prison, a new Jim Crow
Surveillance on your email, surveillance on your phone, surveillance in your home
All governments imprison and police
Cops love Trump, but to get rid of both, we have to get rid of the government
From the threat of white supremacists to the threat of the police
Our safety lies in building bonds with each other, outside of state control
For freedom, for anarchy
An army of one watches over Amerikkka’s corporate interests…
….while at 13th and K, we remain ungovernable.
As supporters continue to gather around the group of arrestees, police have begun launching grenades into the crowd. People on the ground report they are either concussion grenades, sonic grenades, or both. Cops are also spraying tear gas into the crowd. This video, taken from inside the police kettle, shows us the scene.
The loud booms of these grenades are heard from 11th and I, where the Festival of Resistance March is converging with another march, which includes parents and children. At 13th and K, there are reports of concussion grenades being fired every 30 seconds.
These militarized tactics are similar to what we’ve seen at Standing Rock and at Ferguson, but the large crowds remaining prove we cannot be so easily intimidated.
Of the 14 security checkpoints around the inaugural parade route, protestors managed to block 6 of them for several hours.
The Future is Feminist blockade at 10th and E seems to have held out the longest, disbanding only minutes ago to join a march. The diverse crowd maintained a soft blockade with linked arms for hours this morning, chanting “Go another way!” and “Not my president!” while denying access to Trump supporters.
Police eventually broke up the blockade from behind, creating a path through which they escorted Bikers for Trump. This may have been intended to prevent clashes between the Bikers and the blockaders, but the feminist crew didn’t seem to need their help. As video shows, they held their own against all kinds of people trying to pass.
Across the US, and the world, people are refusing to go on with business as usual. Students from Ohio State and Southern Illinois University are walking out in protest of Trump’s inauguration, and janitorial workers are striking in Minneapolis.
Submedia captured video of the crew of more than 500 anti-capitalists that rampaged through the DC this morning in defiance of the security state. One protestor compared the scene to Seattle in 1999.
This video shows detainees kettled at 12th and L are in good spirits, and still defiant!
Mass arrests like this one are a tactic law enforcement employs to sweep up wide swaths of people and gather data on them, that they can later use to profile and identify protestors–or even help decide who to summon to appear before a grand jury investigation.
This kind of intimidation tactic is one of many that prove our government would rather act with impunity now and pay fines later for its bad behavior. As police repression becomes ever more normalized, every struggle has become a police struggle.
As things heat up in Washington, DC, comrades around the world are planning actions in solidarity with anti-inauguration protestors. We’ll have reports from several of these protests throughout the day.
An Anti-Border Solidarity Caravan has set off from Montreal to Washington, DC, while the city gears up for a mass demonstration against the far-right, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic and anti-immigrant agenda represented by Donald Trump. The Collectif de résistance antiraciste de Montréal has also called for a “Make Racists Afraid Again / Manif de soir Anti-Trump” night demo.
Europe is marching today, as well. In United Kingdom, the biggest march is expected to begin soon, in front of US embassy in London. There are at least eight other demos announced in the UK alone, several morale-raising banners have appeared on bridges in London and elsewhere.
People are also hitting the streets in Berlin, where they will gather in front of the Alternative for Germany, an extreme right-wing party. Many international solidarity protests share the message that this is about more than just Trump. Across the world, people are on the streets today to resist the global turn to the far-right. Despite the nationalist fervor these parties try to whip up, comrades across the world know that we are in this fight together, and that we won’t win it through electing more sympathetic politicians.
Stay tuned for reports from protests later this day in Madrid, Brussels, and Portugal, amongst other places. Although some events are organized by leftist parties, we are certain comrades around the globe will be ready to rumble, and to challenge the liberal agenda to keep us in line. Stakes are too high.
Wherever you are today, we are with you. Send your reports to us at J20@crimethinc.com.
Between 30 and 50 members of the black bloc that courageously took the streets this morning have been detained at 12th and L, and mass arrests are beginning. There are 100 or more protestors gathered in solidarity, chanting, “Black bloc, we love you!”
At 10:45am, 10th Street NW and Palmer Alley, this Trump supporter in a white shirt held down a protestor, assisting the police in making an arrest. Police were releasing chemical spray in the area at the time.
In 1999, the black bloc that trashed downtown Seattle in protest against the world trade organization and capitalism was comprised of only a hundred people up against only 400 police officers. Today, after 17 years of militarization and the intensification of social conflict, a much larger black bloc wreaked havoc in the heart of the capitol of the most powerful empire in the history of the solar system, on the day when it is to hold its most important celebration of capitalism and the state.
This shows, first, that anarchists were always the opponents of globalization, not billionaire capitalists.
Second, it shows that it is possible to stand up to the state and to the rise of fascism. We have to become capable of rendering government impossible.
Currently, a small fraction of the anti-capitalist bloc is being detained at L and 12, chanting: “We love you! Stay strong! The revolution goes on!”
Crews from Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter blocked all entrances, kicked out Alex Jones and claimed an early victory for #DisruptJ20.
At 10:15 am, a black bloc of 500 or more gathered on 13th Street. They hit a Starbucks and Bank of America, also on 13th, and spray-painted several vehicles. Police in riot gear were close behind, and split up the bloc at 10:40am by a mass attack of chemical spray. There has been one arrest reported.
…or Helpless Victims? (pick one)
The alt-right have to make up their minds: Are they the master race, effortlessly dominating everyone in their path? Or are they helpless victims everyone should feel bad for, posing with the head wounds they received from angry people on the street? Their rhetoric switches back and forth between these contradictory messages: to hear them tell it, they are both Übermensch and underdog. But they can’t convincingly push both arguments—either might makes right, or the weak should be protected.
This narrative dissonance illuminates their complex relationship with the state, which coddles and protects them even as they pretend to rebel against it. It is a narrative calculated to appeal to people who are losing privileges they never earned or even fought for in the first place, inherited privileges that are disappearing as the 20th century recedes and being white is no longer enough to guarantee anyone a place in the economy.
Any smart white person can see that it is long past time to make common cause with everyone else suffering the crises of capitalism, not to try to buddy up to the super-rich in hopes of brokering some new special treatment for white workers. Newsflash: if you are a poor white man, you can be sure that the super-rich got so rich by ripping off people like you, as well as everybody else, even if they cut you a little break here or there back before capitalism got so cutthroat. The super-rich have no compunction about bamboozling you and robbing you blind. Yes, you’re a victim, but a victim of the capitalists above you, most of whom are white men like yourself. Yes, you dominate others, but not by virtue of your own strength, and not in a way that makes your life any better—it just prevents you from finding comrades with whom to better your situation. You’re crying and being entitled at the same time. Take some responsibility for your decisions and the way you affect others, and then—only then—might your life start to improve.
January 19—The last spokescouncil at the convergence center in downtown Washington, D.C.. Hundreds of people there. It ends with a collective roar: “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!”
When you walk around the neighborhood outside the spokescouncil, you pass a giant puppet around one corner, a crowd of Latino kids on bicycles around the next—the atmosphere is angry and defiant. This area is not welcoming Trump.
At the Deploraball that night, Trump supporters mingle on the fringes with a crowd of anarchists in black bloc, socialists with their cultish mass-produced signs, and ordinary people of all persuasions who have it in for the new generation of fascists. For all their attempts to terrorize people on the internet, the alt right seem weak and tentative in the flesh. They say insulting things, they are dumbfounded (a condition that comes easily to them) that others are not like them, but they have historically relied upon the police to fight their street battles for them, and they recognize that they are outnumbered by angry and unpredictable mobs. The much more numerous anti-fascists are also hesitant to engage—there is still a veneer of civility that no one has yet broken through—but whenever a confrontation starts, everyone races to it. The police seem disorganized and unenthused about their work. It’s just too much to keep up with, separating all the different people who don’t like each other, responding to every confrontation. There are a lot of them, but they can’t control the entire social terrain—they keep having to spread out further, which creates other vulnerabilities in their zones of imposed order. They can’t control everything at once, and wherever their lines end, that is the space where the angry anti-fascists catch the fascists trying to get in and out of the building. I see some flailing, ineffectual deployment of pepper spray, but I don’t see any arrests.
On the surrounding streets, wealthy people are arriving at their hotels, hoping to celebrate Trump’s inauguration, as if this were the Bush years. It isn’t the Bush years anymore.
Today, tens of thousands of people around the US and the world are mobilizing to show that they do not recognize the authority of Donald Trump. This is an important day: it marks a new threshold in the erosion of the authority of the United States government, and perhaps of all governments. It is becoming increasingly clear that the function of government is fundamentally alien to the real needs of human beings: we are not progressing down a path towards justice and equality, but descending precipitously into tyranny as our society lurches towards civil war.
As anarchists, we don’t recognize the legitimacy of any President. From our perspective, no political process or majority vote can give any politician the right to rule people against their will. The coercive violence that is inherent in government is unacceptable even when it is endorsed by an electoral college or a majority.
We believe that every person must answer to his or her conscience before answering to the laws of the state or the orders of the authorities. If everyone did so, a man like Trump would have little power. So long as people think that governments deserve their unquestioning obedience and loyalty, every state will be only a single election away from a Donald Trump or Adolf Hitler coming to power. To ensure that this can never happen, we have to delegitimize the state itself, and build networks through which to defend ourselves against all who aspire to rule.
To learn more about the anarchist critique of democracy:
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