Mar 28, 2017
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Oakland Protests Trump
by Doniphan Blair
Oaklanders gathering to protest the Trump election in front of city hall. photo: D. Blair
DOING ITS PERENNIAL PART FOR
protest, young people and progressives of all ages took to the streets of Oakland on Wednesday night and, to a lessor extent, Thursday, to condemn Donald Trump as racist, misogynist and xenophobic and to reject his election to the highest office in the land. They joined protestors across the country from Seattle to Baltimore.
To be sure, they might have been better served by coming out earlier to canvas for Hillary Clinton, by phone or even text at MoveOn.org—not to mention vote (in fact, almost half of all eligible voters abstained)—but now is not the time for would-have/should-haves but new strategies of protest, organization and affiliation.
On election night, Oakland was beaten to the punch by Berkeley where, by the closing of the polls, citizens mobilized and began marching down Telegraph Avenue to Oakland, stopping enroute to shut down Highway 24, where one woman was injured by a car (which, in turn, was destroyed by protestors). The following morning, Berkeley High students walked out en mass from classes.
On Wednesday evening about five thousand protestors convened at Oakland City Hall, site of the wellknown Occupy Oakland encampment in 2011, to console each other, listen to speakers call for revolution but counsel among themselves more moderate courses of action.
Despite the colorful attire and tattooing, this protestor on the streets of Oakland recommended moderation and inclusion. photo: D. Blair
Indeed, the young people I chatted with seemed to realize it would take serious improvements in strategy and coalition building to offset the end run the pseudo-Republican firebrand made around his own party as well as the Democrats and professional pollsters. Rather than blaming yet another conspiracy, most of them acknowledged that the Trump Presidency resulted from a complex train wreck of factors, which included whitelash, an apt phrase coined by Oakland activist Van Jones (see #whitelash), displacement by globalization and the typical trying of something new after eight years under one administration.
After displaying signs like “Stand up for Love and Peace” and “Hugs for All”, on one hand, and “Trump = Nazi” and “Break the Union”, on the other, and listening to speakers rehash ‘60s rhetoric from the back of a truck, the truck headed out, leading the assembly north on Broadway.
The group continued peaceably for about ten blocks until confrontations began with the Oakland police, leading to the arrest of about 30 protesters, the setting of some 40 fires, the breaking of windows, and the injury of three officers, according to an Oakland Police spokesperson.
As during the Oakland Occupy protests, the vandalism, graffiti and window-breaking was often enacted by kids from outside Oakland, inspired not by the media, as President-elect Trump tweeted, but anarchist theories about "beneficial chaos" and views that Oakland is a radical playground. Such actions were roundly condemned by native Oaklanders. Many downtown businesses boarded up their windows or closed early on Thursday, although that night's protests were smaller.
While a number of protesters vented extreme anger and flexed freedom of speech muscles, the vast majority realized radical tolerance and multiculturalism would be the only viable avenue to opposing the Trump Administration. photo: D. Blair
The vast majority of the crowd, however, were peaceful young professionals, people of color or colorful characters well-aware that with Republicans in control of the Senate and Congress as well as the Presidency, a more mature, broader and strategic protest movement would be needed to prevent the Trump Administration from dismantling Obama Care and various climate agreements or deporting millions of our neighbors.
While it may take some time for most of the protestors to realize, since until recently they had the luxury of espousing more radical positions, we are now in a whole new world where aggressive, ill-conceived practices will alienate coalition partners and bring bad publicity, more backlash or worse. Indeed, a new vision of multiculturalism, tolerance and bridge-building—including with Republican “Never Trumpers” and morally-minded Trump voters—will be required for any facsimile of success.
Fortunately, those ideas are already being modeled by our multiculturalist-in-chief, Barack Obama, in his hour-and-a-half meeting with Trump at the White House on Thursday, by conservative columnist David Brooks, in his Friday NY Times article (see it
), and many others, suggesting that the Trump Administration may inspire what few could previously imagine: a broad coalition of people of good will of all colors, income levels and cultures, who could, in fact, make our country great.
Posted on Nov 11, 2016 - 11:14 AM