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Scenes from a Trump protest

I took my camera downtown on Saturday afternoon and joined up with the ANSWER Coalition mass march against the President-elect.

I thought the Tribune's coverage was adequate.  Sort of surface level and not wanting to get into the details.

The Daily Caller was much more obsessed with the socialist groups who were involved. 

And then there was the alt-right Breitbart: Protesters Harass Chicago's Trump Tower For Second Week

The lesson here is that in 2016 we've learned that objectivity is dead and everybody gets to put their own spin on the truth. There certainly were a lot of leftist groups who joined in the fun. Passing out brochures for their meetings and marches. A few speakers were invited on stage to talk about various progressive topics...police violence, minimum wage, women's rights. It's hard to say what it was really about. I don't think it was entirely unexpected that these groups were taking the lead in organizing. Chicago, especially, has a long history of leftist activism. But it's also hard to say what the true motivations were of everyone there.

The march began with several speeches, chants, and finally moving into the street to walk to Trump Tower. Up State Street. East on Lake. North on Wabash with the intersection of Wabash/Wacker closed to traffic across the river from the tower. It's hard to say how many attended. 300 had confirmed they were going via Facebook plus another 9000 interested. There was a definite core of support from vocal demonstrators in the front with signs and enthusiasm. But there were also quite a few silent types who mingled on the sides and in the back. Maybe it was their first protest? Maybe they weren't really sure what we were protesting or how to feel? Just observing? The crowd came and went--both walking and at Trump Tower--people would join when they realized what was happening and just as easily break off. Pedestrians downtown cheered and drivers honked in agreement. Some people it was just a simple peace sign. Some people just watched as we passed taking it all in.

The police were friendly. They blocked streets and had barricades up. They told us to stay warm and enjoy the day...maybe go get a coffee. Everything was nonviolent. No property was destroyed. It was a fairly easygoing exercise of Constitutional rights. Once we got to Trump Tower there was one white, middle-aged man on a bicycle with a bullhorn who was taunting the crowd with pro-Trump messages. Nothing racist or otherwise horrible. Just that we were wrong and Trump is a good thing. The marchers mostly ignored him or shouted him down and he left. Or shut up? In any case, the march was still ongoing after 2 hours and I was cold and hungry so I broke off. The middle-aged white woman who chatted with me down Wacker said she'd felt so lonely and afraid after the election and this simply made her feel better to be around similar people. I told her to stay involved.

The crowd was, in my opinion, explicitly anti-bigotry more than anti-Trump. President-elect Trump is clearly a...figurehead?...but several speakers noted that he's not really the problem. The discrimination against people of color, immigrants, Muslims, gays, women, trans, has been going on far longer than Trump has been in the Presidential limelight. There's nothing new here other than the institutionalization of it in the White House. And the fight against that version of America will go on after he's gone.

That is, perhaps, the biggest struggle ahead based on what I saw Saturday. Lots of people with many different ideas and no true leadership. Lots of complaints about how Democrats are just as bad as Republicans. Which is fine, but I'm also not in agreement that community activism, per se, is going to get us out of this political mess. We need someone who can summarize these issues into a handful of points to rally behind and gain the political support to get people in power who will stand against all this. Loose cooperation between unaffiliated groups feels weak and ineffectual. Unless Republicans shoot themselves in the foot bickering over power and policy. Then all bets are off. And that may be likely.

Right now, I'm far less worried about liberals being united--we are--than I am about who is going to be our Moses to take the people out of Egypt. Then again, the right wing has certainly done pretty well for itself simply opposing anything and everything.









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