Thursday’s crisp weather didn’t stop activists. Their sharpied-signs and neck pillows blew haplessly in the wind as they waited to board buses to protest the incoming Trump Administration. Before the buses rolled in they talked in small groups about previous protests they’d attended and where they saw the country heading.
Washington, D.C. was their next stop. The Navy Memorial and the intersection of 14th Street and Pennsylvania, both along the inaugural route, were their destinations for a weekend filled with demonstrating and protesting President Donald Trump and what they believe he embodies.
For a Haitian immigrant, who prefered to remain anonymous because he is undocumented, the decision to travel wasn’t an easy one. He would be missing work and, as an undocumented person, he worried for his safety. Those thoughts left him when he weighed them against the importance of action against the Trump administration.
“We have to shut down this Trump regime, we have to bring this thing to a halt,” the man said. “If he isn’t impeached, we’re in for a fascist regime.”
This wasn’t his first time protesting Trump. After his election sweep, he joined others in protests in St. Louis. When he heard about the opportunity to protest in D.C. he traveled by bus for the 300 miles to Chicago to board another bus to D.C. and confront the incoming administration head on.
The Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Chicago chapter helped people of various ages gather together and organize to get to the heart of the country this weekend. From students to working people, a group as varied as the nation’s demographics assembled. Their reasons for going varied, but the underlying commonality was they felt they couldn’t sit back any longer.
“There are enough people who say they don’t (agree with Trump), but now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is,” Rachel, who preferred not to state her last name due to fear of retaliation at work, said. “It’s me stepping out of my comfort zone — it’s that little bit of extra effort.
Many were determined to put their money where their mouth was, not just in D.C. but in Chicago. There were many protests planned in Chicago for the weekend — many started in the Loop before moving from these starting points. Taking their chants and signs around downtown city blocks, feet pounding the pavement in one of the oldest forms of demonstration and rebuffing a president, protesters were busy from Friday to Sunday.
Yoshio Ramirez’s decision to go to D.C. was a personal reason centered on going directly to the “source of the problem.” As a Mexican-American, he felt going to protest on the inaugural route would put him closer to showing the new president that his actions won’t be tolerated.
“The blatant disrespect this man (has shown) me, as a citizen of this country … how can I dare call him a leader, a leader is someone who actually looks out for his people, someone who avoids any trouble for his people,” Ramirez said. “Once he comes into office what can I expect? I’m a citizen of the U.S. but it’s scary to think about how I can be targeted.”
Reports on what Trump will do in his first 100 days have varied, but he has pledged to build a wall along the nation’s southern border and begin to limit immigration. He has already started the plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” which was also part of his 100-day pledge.
These plans have heightened the sense of fear and unease that started election night, but also pushed many to act out. Ramirez thinks that the next four years are the perfect opportunity to spotlight bigotry and create change. If not now, when, he asked, if not him, then who.
“I’m going to his house — to his door and telling him, as a leader, f**k you,” Ramirez said. “That’s what you do to a bully. You stand up to a bully and you tell them to cut it out because enough is enough.”