Protests ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration have largely focused on race, with a coalition of students, artists and activists airing their grievances against the incoming administration’s policies toward immigration and education.
Eric Myers, who said he is an artist who “performs to reform,” said Mr. Trump’s platform is tantamount to enslavement.
“I will not stand idly by while a man named Donald Trump and his team attempt to thrust us back into slavery,” Mr. Myers said, speaking at the ANSWER Coalition protest at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Friday morning.
The artist took issue with reports that the president-elect plans to cut funding to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities dramatically.
“Well, I’ve come to let him know today that you can’t silence us,” he said. “And I’ve come to let you know that artists will continue to speak truth to power, we will continue to sing truth to power, we will write truth to power, we will act truth to power.”
Several hundred demonstrators, wearing raincoats, ponchos and scarves and carrying umbrellas to brave the weather, gathered at the Navy Memorial just north of the National Mall ahead of Mr. Trump’s inauguration in one of the more civil and organized protests of the day.
Some people in the crowd carried cardboard signs, one of which read, “Education not Deportation.”
Karina Garcia, an organizer at Women Organized to Resist & Defend, told the crowd that immigrants are “tired of living in poverty in the richest country in the world.”
“We’re tired of them blaming our families for their problems,” Ms. Garcia said. “We’re tired of it. We’re tired of our communities being threatened by deportations. We’re tired of our communities being threatened by police brutality, tired of being threated by mass incarceration. We’re tired.”
She said Friday’s protests are a sign of things to come under the Trump administration.
“The fact that we’re here today is an example that we’re not going to be turned away by your checkpoints, we’re not going to be turned away by your barriers and all your rules you want to pass. We’re going to stand here and fight,” she said.
Vincent DeLaurentis, a Georgetown University student who organizes with the Georgetown Solidarity Committee and ONE DC, said progressives can’t let conservatives gain a footing in academia going forward.
“Progressive and radical students must realize that the university is an important site of struggle. It is a place that has enormous potential to create and disseminate knowledge and to promote or distort truth in a way that ripples throughout society,” Mr. DeLaurentis said. “The ultra-right has realized the power held within the university and in the past year has increasingly mobilized bastardized arguments about free speech to gain access to the institution.”
“They deserve no safe space for their violent, racist and xenophobic hatred,” continued Mr. DeLaurentis, who wore a camo jacket and green beanie.
Heidi Ullmann, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center, said she is “afraid” that U.S. policy toward deportation will get worse under Mr. Trump.
“We’re going to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ and we’ve got to say it so loud and we’ve got to say it over and over again, because Donald Trump, he’s going to try to tear apart more families, he’s going to try to devastate more communities, and he’s going to try to lead by fear and hate, but we’re not going to follow that lead,” she said.
Organizers at the ANSWER Coalition said they expect appearances from Princeton University professor Cornel West and rapper Donald Glover.
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