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The world against Trump


January 23, 2017

In hundreds of cities across the US and around the world, millions took to the streets to oppose Trump and all the forms of oppression he represents.

Since he was elected many politicians and media have belittled protests and demanded that people "give him a chance," ignoring both his bigotry on the campaign trail and the group of reactionary millionaires he's chosen as his cabinet. But people have raised their opposition anyway, and in the process reduced his popularity to the lowest of any incoming president in US history. Then came the historic protests January 21, showing that from his first day in office Trump has no mandate. There were 300 protests across the US, including more than half a million people in Los Angeles and Washington, hundreds of thousands Chicago, New York, Boston, and Denver, and tens of thousands more in other cities the country.

There were also protests around the world, from New Zealand to Kenya, from Paris to South Africa, from Mexico to India, and even in Antarctica. As an organizer in Australia explained the global protests are not just against Trump but against oppressive forces everywhere: "Hatred, hate speech, bigotry, discimination, prejudicial policies--these are not American problems, these are global problems." Below are a few reports from across Canada and the US.

Washington

(by Kevin Taghabon)

The Women's March in DC was absolutely massive. Never in my life have I seen so many people in one city. Up and down every single street in the DC core protesters could be seen packed from sidewalk to sidewalk. In six hours outside I counted very few Trump supporters, the only notable group being a handful of Evangelical dominionists being drowned out by chants as they held signs in a circle. If Trump fans were in the city, they clearly were afraid of showing themselves.

In stark contrast to the inauguration protests of January 20, these were far larger and with far less police presence. The mood was one of loud and inclusive peace. Blocked cars on dozens of streets had their drivers and passengers honking, getting out and dancing, and otherwise showing support. There were children and families all over the march, many holding colourful signs that matched the cleverness of more seasoned activists. Pink hats dotted the human landscape across every square, park, monument, and road. Marching in any direction and stopping on the corner one could see demonstrators as far as the eye could see for half a dozen blocks or more.

Internal security, that is the military and police, were far lower in proportion to the protesters than yesterday. This is likely due to the fact that this was billed as the Women's March, although of course countless other causes were represented in the march. The optics of a day one crackdown on women in the streets by an administration that has been accused of misogyny are too negative to bear this early.

After looping around the capital for several hours I attempted to walk north to go to the Socialist Alternative event near the Washington Post building on K Street. Chris Hedges and Kshama Sawant were among the speakers. It took a full hour to walk seven blocks. In every direction on every street, the protesters were so numerous that traffic was at a crawl or stopped entirely. The march had essentially brought the city to a halt.

The atmosphere was one of celebration. From windows, buses, and shops patrons would run to the windows and shout support or put up a fist or peace sign and smile. On the streets, large groups even hours after the main march ended were close enough to each other that spontaneous chants never stopped. A long victory yell from the Lincoln Memorial would reliably carry a dozen blocks north through tens of thousands of voices like clockwork. A city with every reason to mourn was instead flooded with the sentiment of organization, resistance, and camaraderie.

Atlanta

(by Valerie Lannon)

Before I attended the rally I asked someone if such events were big in Atlanta. I was given a sideways glance and a reminder that “This is the home of Martin Luther King. We know marches.”

About 60,000 people converged outside Atlanta's Civil and Human Rights Museum to loudly voice their opposition to all things Trump. Due to the size and density of the crowd, and a limited sound system, I was unable to hear the speakers; however, I was able to interview several participants.

When I asked two young boys and a girl, ages 8,11 and 13, why they attended they said they were protesting because of Trump's racism and sexism. An older African-American man said “This is my home town. When I saw a crowd I could see that it was against Trump. I am against hate and racism as I have been a victim of it all my life. For today I would just like to live another day and then have peace every day.”

A Latino family came by. The teenage daughter said "We hate Trump because he is a racist and sexist. He's a bigot; that says it all. He supports conversion therapy and he opposes immigrants. He tries to divide us."

One woman said "Trump doesn't represent me or this country. We want more tolerance." Another added "Trump won't defend me as a woman and as a Latina. I want to see change and more tolerance and loving each other." Yet another stated "Trump is a danger to the world and is a bully and misogynist. He is an embarrassment."

While there were few organizational banners, there were numerous individual placards. One read "Raising my daughter to tear down your wall." Another common placard said "Protect each other." And a young African-American woman was repeatedly photographed by people in the crowd for her placard which read "We're watching your EVERY move and we will FIGHT"

The crowd's most common chant was shouted in English and Spanish simultaneously: "The people united will never be defeated."

Ottawa

(by Chantal Sundaram)

By 11am on Saturday January 21, more than 1,000 people had gathered at the Human Rights Monument in central Ottawa for a solidarity rally with the Women's March on Washington. The crowd continued to grow over the next half hour, and by the time it moved north on Elgin Street to march across town, the rally had swelled to an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people, according to Ottawa police. 

Marchers filled Laurier Avenue from curb to curb and boisterously chanted "Love Trumps Hate" and "Hey hey, ho ho, misogyny has got to go" as they headed through downtown for an indoor rally at the Bronson Centre. Indigenous women led the way for speeches both inside and outside, which were bilingual throughout, in English and French. When the Centre filled up, a crowd blocked the intersection outside, not wanting to leave.

In the Bronson Centre, the introductory speech posed Canadian opposition to the Trump message in terms of the Tory leadership race, and especially in terms of Kellie Leitch's "Values test": "Anyone who doesn't respect Indigenous rights, women, people of colour, people with disabilities , LGBTQ2S doesn't pass OUR Canadian values test." To rounding applause. The message from the rally to Justin Trudeau's "feminism" : time to walk the talk...

Toronto

(by Sid Lacombe)

The Women’s March on Washington - Toronto was one of the biggest demonstrations the city has seen in years. The rally started at Queen’s park and filled the grounds before spilling out onto University avenue. Tens of thousands then marched past the US consulate to end at Nathan Phillips Square.

At the rally, speakers highlighted the need for us to be vigilant in Canada to stop Trump style hate from growing in this country. Numerous speakers highlighted the hate fest that has become the conservative party leadership race as a key forum to spread racism. Councilor Kristen Wong-Tam and School board trustee Ausma Malik spoke of the sexism and racism that they had to endure on the campaign trail.

Although there were some union flags and organized contingents from the left groups and campaigns like the fight for $15 and Fairness, it was obvious from the huge number of homemade signs that this was a spontaneous outburst of anger against Trump. This demo can plant the seeds of further radicalization and a push against the right in Canada.

Montreal

(by Michelle Robidoux)

Thousands of people gathered on the steps of Montreal's Place des Arts in a show of solidarity with the Women's March on Washington on January 21. The rally, which drew an estimated 10,000 people, spilled into the surrounding streets.

The Mohawk Nation Buffalo Hat Singers opened the rally. Placards and speeches, in French and English, spoke of the urgent need to build solidarity in action, in defense of those who will be immediately affected by Trump's policies: immigrants and refugees, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, Indigenous peoples, and women. One speaker got huge applause when she said, "Trump is just a symptom of a much larger problem that we're facing not only in the United States, but around the world."

As reports came in of other marches in cities around the world, there were cheers and a growing sense that this day marks the beginning of a new movement of resistance, which must tackle Trumpism as it manifests here, in our governments' own neoliberal and divisive policies.

Kelowna

(by Norah Bowman)

In Kelowna, a small city in the interior of BC on the unceded land of the Syilx nation, over 500 people attended the largest rally in recent memory.  The introduction to the rally was by Chief Lindley of the Westbank First Nation. Chief Lindley is the first woman chief of her First Nation. The crowd was also addressed by Susana Caxaj from Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture, who spoke about migrant worker's rights.

Vancouver 

(by Bradley Hughes and Robyn Karina)

Located in the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Nations, Vancouver was one of the last times zones to start the Women's March. Women woke up early to reports from Washington, Melbourne, South Africa, Latvia, Brussels and London. By 8:30am women were reporting heavy traffic en-route. Sea buses, Skytrain and buses were filled to capacity with pink hatted women heading to the march.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people joined the Vancouver march in Solidarity with the March on Washington. The crowd was full of hand made signs, knitted pussyhats, and union banners. The march started with a rally at Jack Poole Plaza on the waterfront and was lead by First Nations' elders.

At one point the beginning of the march passed the end of the march from several blocks away as thousands of people poured into the streets. As they passed Trump Tower in Vancouver, people attached their signs to the security fence. I heard a few parents giving their children permission to join in the raised finger salutes to the building.

The marches around the world were an exercise is building unity, which is not accomplished by declaration by continual practice. For example, as the Vancouver chapter of Black Lives Matter chapter pointed out, "We at Black Lives Matter are dedicated, vocal supporters of intersectional feminism.We have not been contacted in any way by the organizers of the Women’s March in Vancouver. We are pleased to see that the list of speakers includes Indigenous people and women of colour. However, the apparent lack of Black women and trans women in both the organization and on the official speakers’ list is problematic."

Women’s liberation will only be realized if all women—in their vast diversity—are at the forefront leading the struggle. Recognizing this diversity in words falls flat if it isn’t put into practice. The threat Trump and his supporters pose to women around the world is real and will need to be stopped. Future actions will undoubtedly happen, and we all need to make sure they’ll be inclusive of the marginalized women most violently targeted by Trump and the far-right forces he encourages.

Join the report back from the Washington protests, Monday January 30, 7pm at Steelworkers Hall, Toronto.

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