There has been rally after rally in the wake of Donald Trump becoming President. Last weekend kicked it off.
WASHINGTON, DC – Although it was the weekend that Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America, that event did not take center stage. With antifa groups protesting since Thursday against the Inauguration and particularly against the neo-Fascists that supported Trump, as well as the massive Women’s March that took place not just in Washington but around the globe, the attention given to Trump was as scant as his Inauguration’s attendance.
Thursday saw a protest against what was called the “Deploraball” at the National Press Club, an event to celebrate Trump’s inauguration that was organized by mainstream neo-Fascist figures that was closely connected to the so-called “alt-right”. The event was threatened by not just the paranoia of the organizers of protesters, but also because of infighting, especially after one of the organizers Mike Cernovich, an internet figure known for taking stances such as denying date rape exists last month, and was actually charged with rape in 2003 of a woman he knew, with the charge later dropped and Cernovich sentenced for battery attempted to purge the “alt-right” hardliners out of the Deploraball. It was a move that prompted those hardliners such as National Policy Institute Richard Spencer to start referring to Cernovich and those involved with the Deploraball as members of the “alt-light”, and in the end the event became same enough for even Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke and Jim Hoft of the Gateway Pundit blog to attend. “There is the alt-right which wants to do White identity politics. And there’s people … who want to do nationalism without white identity politics,” Cernovich later said, preferring to call his effort the “New Right”, distancing himself from the “alt-right” label. “And now everybody knows where I stand and everybody else knows where everybody else is.” Regardless, White Supremacist Devin Saucier, who works closely with Spencer, was among the attendees, as was Marcus Epstein, another Spencer friend.
And the paranoia was also assisting in Cernovich’s purge. According to organizers, a number of tickets were refunded because they believed the ticket holders were protesters attempting to infiltrate. They also maintained a policy that only the person who bought the ticket could use it, and had to show identification showing that was the case, which caused confusion for those who were bringing people with them and those who bought tickets for friends. Many believe however, that many of those tickets were refunded because they were sold at the original price of $30, when the event was to take place at a cheaper venue, so they can be resold at the new price of $200. The Deploraball policy became particularly embarrassing when political strategist and Trump associate Roger Stone, who is still listed on the Deploraball website as one of the event speakers, was not allowed to enter when he brought members of his family. His ejection came hours after a New York Times report noted that he along with other Trump associates, Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was also Stone’s former lobbying partner, and Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page, were being investigated by the government for their alleged ties to the Kremlin. While rumored, it is not known if this was the actual reason for Stone being turned away.
Meanwhile outside, protesters set fire to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hat as well as other pro-Trump items. Some projected statements onto the side of the Press Club such as “Impeach the predatory president” and “bragging about grabbing a woman’s genitals.” The protest was part of the effort called #DisruptJ20, and conservative propagandist James O’Keefe, who has been closely associated with neo-Fascist figures and spoke at the Deploraball, attempted to smear them and associated groups by insinuating in a series of videos that they were planning acts of terrorism such as throwing stink bombs and tampering with Press Club sprinkler systerm during the Deploraball. According to one of those groups, DC Antifascist Coalition, they were aware of O’Keefe’s plans and fed his infiltrator, who called himself “Tyler”, false information to throw him off.
Another neo-Fascist, Vice Magazine co-Founder and Fox News contributor Gavin McInnes found himself in a physical confrontation with antifa outside of the Press Club. McInnes, 46, who boasts regularly that he and his crew called the Proud Boys, look for and fight leftists in the street, is seen in video flailing his arms at activists and shoving one with an antifascist flag. No one was reported as injured however, and McInness retreated into the building unharmed.
Washington State University College Republicans President James Allsup, who also edits the Liberty Conservative, a far-right blog that publishes articles by notable figures in White Supremacist circles, had his head bloodied and was sucker punched after arguing with people opposing the Deploraball, attempting to convince them that those inside were not racists.
According to the DC Media Group, police were able forming lines outside National Press Club doors to block protesters from getting into the building, but could not stop the clashes between protesters and Trump supporters. Among the pro-Trump groups that were part of those clashes were the Bikers for Trump who were eventually driven back by protesters after confrontations.
During Trump’s Inauguration, #DisruptJ20 worked to make things even more problematic for his supporters by blocking the security check points where they were supposed to enter to attend. According to the Hill, they chained themselves to each other and fences surrounding the checkpoints near the National Mall as inauguration attendees waited to pass through, John Marshall Park near the U.S. Capitol Building being one of those check points. Meanwhile, approximately 8,000 marijuana cigarettes were handed out at Dupont Circle [http://www.mediaite.com/online/hundreds-line-streets-in-dupont-circle-for-free-inauguration-day-marijuana-giveaway/. Those who were able to get one of the joints started smoking them four minutes and twenty seconds into Trump’s speech, 420 being a popular code for stoners. After the inauguration, the #OurResistence Rally was held at McPherson Square, and featured appearances by the band Antiflag, riot folk artist Evan Greer and musician/activist Taina Asili as well as progressive filmmaker Michael Moore, who refered to the incoming administration as “a shit show”. A block away at Franklin Square, another rally took place that featured musical performances
As the rally was being held however, clashes between protesters and police were taking place resulting in windows being smashed and cars being set on fire. More than 200 persons were taken in a mass arrest and face up to ten years in prison on charges of felony riot. Among those arrested were legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild and reporters, leading many to wonder if the arrests were themselves illegal. Attorney Jeffrey Light, who provided legal support to the Disrupt J20 Collective, filed a class action lawsuit on Friday, which charged that those arrested had already endured abuse at the hands of the police. “Our class action lawsuit charges that the police were rounding up everyone on the street without warning and putting them under arrest and using excessive force,” he said Light. “There were a number of weapons we haven’t seen Washington, D.C. police use in recent memory, flash bang grenades and tear gas. In addition to chemical irritants, they were assaulting people with batons. They were beating people.”
There was also another altercation between protesters and a White Supremacist. Richard Spencer had happened to be in the Franklin Square area giving an interview to the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC), but some in the street recognized him and as things became tense he was punched in the face by an unknown assailant. Spencer, who immediately walked away, later claimed that it was the second time that the same person had hit him, and after a third person whom he described as antifa, spat on him, he decided to leave. Conservative propagandist Chuck C. Johnson, who attended Spencer’s National Policy Institute Conference last November, posted a reward on his Wesearchr website for anyone who could identify the person responsible, but the Wesearchr Twitter account was suspended immediately after the posting. Johnson himself has been banned permanently from Twitter in 2015 after repeated complaints of harassment, culminating in one tweet asking his followers for donations to help him “take out” Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson, which McKesson took as a threat.
The actions before and during the inauguration were the precursors to rallies that have taken place in the wake of Trump’s ascension, including the Women’s March that was held not just in Washington, DC on Saturday, but in hundreds of countries around the world.