This Jan. 20 won’t be the first time that radicals, anarchists, social justice warriors, and racists have planned to protest Inauguration Day. It happened to Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But this year, it could be far worse than anything seen before as tens of thousands of professional protesters descend on the nation’s capital.
By Dave Gahary
The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the next president of the United States is shaping up to be one for the history books, and not in a good way. Individuals upset with November’s election results are vowing to disrupt the ceremony in a variety of ways, some even intent on preventing Trump from ascending to the White House.
The inauguration of the president takes place for each term, even if the president continues in office for a second term. Jan. 20 has been Inauguration Day since 1937, and the president’s term commences at noon, when the chief justice of the Supreme Court administers the oath to the president.
The last time a U.S. presidential inauguration was protested to a similar degree as what is promised for Trump was in 1969 and 1973 for Richard M. Nixon. At Nixon’s first inauguration ceremony, a three-day “counterinauguration” took place, complete with parade, reviewing stand, and even a ball. Thousands of protesters threw sticks, stones, and smoke bombs at the presidential limo, marking the first interruption of an inaugural parade by demonstrators. Horse manure was thrown at Vice President Spiro T. Agnew’s well-dressed guests, and rocks, tomatoes, and smoke bombs were tossed at Nixon’s motorcade as it cruised along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Four years later, while being administered the oath of office, two antiwar protesters continuously shouted “Killer! Killer! Killer!” and “Stop the war! Stop the war!” when Agnew was sworn in.
Forty-four years later, plans to ensure a smooth presidential transition does not take place reached a fever pitch on Jan. 7, when The New York Times printed a full-page “call to action” ad supported by thousands of activists, entertainers, journalists, scientists, and others, to make clear their rejection of Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
The ad, which refers readers to the website www.refusefascism.org, and details their desperation, is composed of large lettering that says: “No! In the name of humanity we refuse to accept a fascist America!”
The bottom half of the ad, filled with purple prose, encourages participants to actively prevent Trump from becoming president, and reads in part:
The Trump Regime Must and Can Be Stopped Before It Starts!
This is not wishful thinking but could be made a reality if all who hate what is represented by this fascist regime translate our outrage into massive mobilization to create the political conditions which make this possible.
Our only recourse now is to act together outside normal channels. Every faction within the established power structure must be forced to respond to what we do—creating a situation where the Trump/Pence regime is prevented from ruling.
We call on each and every one who opposes what this regime stands for, and what it will do, to take part in and actively build, this resistance and refusal.
Organize. Plan. Act. The Month of Resistance must grow to millions—becoming protests that don’t stop—where people refuse to leave, occupying public space, and more and more people stand up with conviction and courage demanding: “Stop the Trump/Pence regime before it starts! In the name of humanity we refuse to accept a fascist America!”
Other groups, such as DisruptJ20, plan similar actions. The spokesperson for the group told U.S. News and World Report: “One of the goals of the group is to block major transportation routes into and throughout our nation’s capital.”
Though he refused to give any specifics, Legba Carrefour, the spokesperson for DisruptJ20, added: “We are planning to shut down the inauguration.”
“We’re pretty literal about that. We are trying to create citywide paralysis on a level that I don’t think has been seen in D.C. before. We’re trying to shut down pretty much every ingress into the city as well as every checkpoint around the actual inauguration parade route.”
Washington, D.C. officials have called in thousands of police officers and National Guard members from across the U.S., the Guard specifically reassigned for the weekend. The Washington Post is reporting that officials expect over 1,500 charter buses, with hotels filling up quickly.
About 1 million spectators are expected for the events, including a “still-undetermined” number of protestors.
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s “Underground Interview” series.