Even before the explosion of protests over Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban, thousands of people had demonstrated across the United States throughout the first week of his presidency.
Campaigners spoke to Socialist Worker about the significance of the protests, the inspiration of the movement—and what needs to happen next.
Sonya Patrick from Wilmington, North Carolina, is an activist with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Trump’s election has been a wake-up call, but so were the Women’s March demonstrations,” she said.
“In Wilmington, a relatively small town, we saw the largest protests there have ever been.
“New people are leading a movement which has yet to fully take shape—that’s exciting.”
Carmen Hulbert helped set up the Latinos for Bernie group, which supported self-described socialist Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential candidate, in New York City.
“This is a defining moment in our history,” she said.
“Either we fight to move forward, or our clocks turn back 50 years.”
The Women’s March has launched a campaign for the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency—10 Actions for the First 100 Days.
The campaign said, “Now is not the time to hang up our marching shoes—it’s time to get our friends, family and community together and make history.”
Sonya stressed the need to stay active—and said that anger at Trump could grow. “People who voted for him are in for a rude awakening,” she said.
“Soon a lot of them will see that the promises he made about improving their lives were completely hollow.”
Carmen said she is considering running for her local city council to provide a left wing alternative.
She also thinks battles over the environment have the power to mobilise big numbers.
“Trump is blatantly attacking every environmental agency and group, as well as supporting the Keystone and DAPL pipelines,” she said.
“On 29 April we will join the march over climate change sponsored by 350.org."
In less than a week in office Trump set in motion a series of brutal attacks—but Republican administrations can be pushed back.
In 2006 a mass movement centred on migrant workers stopped Republican president George W Bush’s administration from snatching away rights.
A bill criminalising undocumented migrants and anyone judged to have helped them enter or stay in the US looked set to become law.
On May Day more than two million migrants and their supporters refused to go to work and marched in towns and cities across the US in protest at the bill.
They wanted to show what a “day without immigrants” would look like.
It was the largest mass protest in US history. And the strikes had a big impact.
The Washington Post newspaper reported, “More than half of the 1,147 construction workers on projects at Dulles airport did not show up.”
It added that strikes shut down at least one major port, closed crossings at the Mexican border and shut down meat-processing plants.
School student Kim Jones was one of those who walked out of class to join the protests. She told Socialist Worker it was “amazing”. She added, “I bet the US lost a lot of money on May Day.”
Some people in Mexico took action to show solidarity.
“We remind the gringos that they are a country of immigrants,” said marcher Felipe Gomez.
Disgracefully Democratic politicians had backed a “compromise” that would force around two million migrants from the US.
Migrant rights advocate Armando Navarro said, “The only political avenue that we had available to us was to take to the politics of the street. We combined the power of the streets with our economic power of denying people profit.”
The movement didn’t stop every racist attack from the US government—but it did stop the bill.
It showed ordinary people can fight and win, and that resistance in the streets and workplaces will be crucial.
Resistance is emerging
Trump has only been in the White House for weeks and he is already steamrolling free speech and advancing an undemocratic agenda.
But the resistance I have witnessed keeps me hopeful.
Knowing that a massive resistance is emerging restored some hope in me.
The Women’s March brought about an inspiring outpouring of solidarity the likes of which I have never seen.
It’s only the beginning. We need to do a hell of a lot more than protest.
We need to work on empowering women, people of colour and other minority groups to run for office so that we may have a truly representative democracy.
I truly felt safe at the Women’s March in Washington DC, but many others did not and I have some criticisms about the march.
I appreciate that people of all kinds finally understand that our democracy is on life support.
However, it’s about damn time that our approach to this resistance movement is truly inclusive.
The pink pussy hats may have been effective in terms of visibility, but some of the “pussy” rhetoric felt narrow-minded.
Womanhood isn’t defined by genitalia and I’m not here for ignoring trans people.
We can’t just chastise folks who are new to resistance—but everyone needs to check their privilege.
I volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign in Arkansas.
The amount of support a democratic socialist was able to garner even in the South blew me away.
I hoped that the Democratic Party would take him and his massive amounts of followers seriously, but it didn’t and now we’re all paying for it.
I’m a registered Democrat who knows that the party needs a radical makeover.
I think the two-party system is archaic and undemocratic—we need to fight and change the system.
Economic and racial justice
Berning Green is a network of individuals formed during the Sanders presidential campaign.
Its purpose is inspiring and empowering ordinary people to advance progressive ideas in the communities they live in.
We promote economic and racial justice for all and think that health care is a right and not a privilege.
Berning Green supports progressive local and national campaigns, such as around affordable housing and gentrification. We support workers’ rights and advocate worker co-operatives.
Environmental issues are at the top of our agenda when it comes to confronting our new government.
We want laws that ban fracking and prevent further drilling for pipelines.
Our goal is to build green environments, which will create jobs and secure our world for our children.
Making links across struggle
El Paso, Texas
Detained Migrants Solidarity Committee activist
We expect Donald Trump will expand the draconian migrant detention system that Democrats and Republicans have been building for decades.
We already face enormous obstacles just to document the abuses that occur in detention, but now organising will be more heavily repressed.
Asking the Department of Justice to investigate the Border Patrol or instances of police brutality is no longer an option.
Guards and officers will be emboldened to strip migrants of rights.
However, the Women’s March brought out a lot of people who may have never marched or protested before. It gives us hope that a lot of people are now really thinking about how to build effective, committed opposition.
I also think the Women’s March is a starting point for making common links across struggles. The threats towards women coming from the ruling class are interlinked with threats towards migrants, workers and marginalised communities.
Things are not good. But in the face of Trump’s offensive against migrants, we need to continue fighting back.
We need more activists
Civil rights and LGBT+ activist
The Women’s March organisers in St Louis had not reached out to the local black women who had organised the movement around police killings in Ferguson.
A community meeting was called, and there were some very heated exchanges.
On the day of the march, there were tens of thousands of people.
At the end of the event a white woman was arrested.
In response to the cops telling her to get out of the way, she said, “Didn’t you hear what they were just saying over there?
“We have to stop following orders, we have to take the streets, we have to resist.”
It was clear that she had never thought those words before, much less said them out loud.
But there she was, resisting the state—the Women’s March had made an activist out of her.
Stop legalising torture
Author of American Torture
Trump has signed an executive order to reopen black site prisons. But executive orders don’t magically change laws. Two days into his presidency, Barack Obama issued an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay.
Due to Republican opposition and a lack of political will and capital to push for its actual closure, Obama failed to deliver on this important directive.
Black site prisons are torture sites—and torture is currently illegal under US law, including for the CIA.
Regardless of what Trump says, tweets or signs, the only way to change this fact is through new legislation striking down this ban.
He would face significant Republican opposition to legalising torture, let alone the pushback from Democrats and civil society.
The rules have changed now
Trump’s attacks have woken up a lot of people. People who had previously not seen themselves as political have become politicised like we’ve never seen before.
The Women’s Marches last Saturday were fantastic. There have been huge networks established since the election.
Locally there are now groups discussing what needs to happen next. They are discussing when to plan the next march.
There is a resistance movement forming.
People are seeing their basic rights being stripped away and there is a recognition that democracy has to be fought for again.
How remains to be seen, but it is not going to be business as usual.
The Women’s Marches and later protests were electric and people are not going to just sit back now.