Music sung by a choir, a couple Bibles, some fancy words. It happens every four years, but this year it’s about President Donald Trump, whose campaign has sparked a massive protest movement following a narrow and divisive election. With too many protests to cover, Real Change sent several reporters across Seattle to hear how people were responding to this new and challenging time.
Friday, 10 a.m., University of Washington
An hour after Trump put his hand on a pair of Bibles and took the oath of office, the resistance was already underway.
Members of UW Resist, a coalition of anti-Trump organizations such as Socialist Alternative and Movimiento Estudantil Chicano Aztlán (MECHA) gathered in Red Square for coffee and community before walking a few dozen yards to take over Odegaard Library. They intended to conduct teach-ins on resistance strategies with titles including “Organizing in the Face of Facism” and “Radical Organizations Under a Trump Presidency.”
“This is the beginning of the resistance. What does that resistance mean?” said Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer, a doctoral student studying political science and media contact for UW Resist. “This is not a vague concept, and we’re going to show concrete steps to take.”
Members of the UW student body who had opposed Trump but had little organizing experience woke up on Nov. 9 with a sense of dread, but no idea what to do next. UW Resist will give them an outlet, she said.
For many students — including Angie Tamayo, a senior psychology major, and Gena Soto-Marquez, a freshman studying political science — organizing and protesting is nothing new. Both are members of MECHA. Tamayo’s activism began in her native Colombia, where she organized for the victims of state crimes in a country that had waged an internal war for almost 50 years. Soto-Marquez grew up in a predominately White area and didn’t find a Latinx community until she went to high school, which opened her eyes to internalized racism and the benefits of forging community with people who shared her background.
Both expressed frustration that new activists, mostly White folks, joined the fight only after Trump won rather than seeing the new president as a symptom of a deeper disease.
“It’s like colonization all over again, and they’re taking credit for discovering it,” Tamayo said.
Friday, 11:50 a.m., Garfield High School
TV Cameras waited, pointing at the steps of Garfield High School where students began to assemble. Across the street police on bikes and motorcycles were pulled into a gravel parking lot. Students crossed 23rd Avenue and filled the streets chanting, “No justice no peace,” and “Refugees are welcome here.” Several minutes later a group of students from neighboring alternative high school The Nova Project joined them, complete with banners and signs, chanting along as they pushed up East Jefferson Street.
Merci, a student from Garfield, explained the walkout simply: “For justice and peace. For no sexism or xenophobia or anything that involves hate.”
The procession turned on 12th Avenue at 12:30 p.m. Cars pulled to the side, honking, with some drivers reaching out of windows to high-five the students. The crowd held signs made by hand, some depicting caricatures of Trump, others read, “Dump Trump” and “No Rape Culture.”
“I think this is really powerful. I love seeing my community rally together and fight back against injustice,” said Theo, one of the students marching as the procession passed Union Street. “A lot of us are queer, we’re trans, we’re disabled, we’re impoverished, and it’s important that we all have rights and that we all live safely and comfortably.”
Marching along with a sign held high, Theo noted the power in the march: “I think it gives you a sense of a voice when in our modern culture youth are discounted and no one listens to us. It feels powerful to stop traffic and make our voices heard.”
For Jake, one of only four students who came from Middle College at Seattle University to join the protest, it was about coming together in one movement. He didn’t see himself as a leader, but rather as one of many diverse voices speaking out.
“That’s the real meaning of it all, to try to hear everybody out,” Jake said. “Dig deeper into, like, what people really want to say, instead of just having one voice.”
Friday, noon., City Hall
Writers, comedians and journalists converged on the Bertha Knight Landes Room to host “Voices of a People’s History of the United States,” a series of live readings from Howard Zinn’s seminal work that uses primary sources to document the dark side of U.S. history often skipped in classrooms.
Writer, artist and activist Shontina Vernon emceed the event and six performers — many writers, actors or poets themselves — read selections from American history from Columbus’ devastation in Haiti to the abolition movement prior to the Civil War and Malcolm X’s exhortation to revolution.
“It brings to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people who built the movement that made the United States what it is today,” Vernon told the packed house.
Marcus Harrison Green, editor and founder of the South Seattle Emerald, an online news source for the south end, read an editorial from The North Star, an abolitionist newspaper published by Frederick Douglass. The editorial asked that citizens denounce the war against Mexico, which would later win significant territory, including Texas, from the Mexican government.
“Let the press, the pulpit, the church, the people at large, unite at once; and let petitions flood the halls of Congress by the million, asking for the instant recall of our forces from Mexico,” Green read. “This may not save us, but it is our only hope.”
Comedian Brett Hamil and writer Valerie Curtis-Newton reenacted the trial of Susan B. Anthony, the suffragette who had the temerity to cast a ballot, before Hamil continued on in the voice of Eugene Debs, the labor organizer jailed for his beliefs.
“In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion or both to deceive,” he read, in a moment that hit close to home so soon after Trump’s inauguration.
Carla Newhouse and Jarrell Davis brought the event home, reading the words of Black student Sylvia Woods and Malcolm X, respectively. The passages set up the struggle with Newhouse’s question, “Who’s free?” and then described how to answer it in the affirmative.
“You haven’t got a revolution without bloodshed,” Davis said. “This is not a threat, it’s a fact.”
Friday, 12:44 p.m., Seattle Central College
Organizers from Socialist Alternative greeted the students at Seattle Central College (SCC). Gathering around a raised platform on the west side of Broadway, the crowd began practicing chants while the dull hum of a press helicopter echoed overhead.
Protesters from Central School, Cleveland STEM High School and Washington Middle School bolstered the crowd at SCC. Coming from as far as Shoreline, students took turns on the microphone, explaining that youth-led movements have been central to everything from the civil rights movement to stalling the new youth jail in Seattle. Behind them a Pace Pride flag waved in front of an American flag, both only half visible behind a wall of press photographers.
Friday, 1:54 p.m., Broadway
Students took to the streets again, filling two city blocks. They filled the right lane of Broadway as they marched south to meet with the immigrants’ rights rally.
“We’re all mad,” said Galaxy Marshall, one of the speakers at the SCC rally. “I think having the adults that helped organize this is really great and makes us feel listened to. Because we can’t vote, we have to have our voices amplified”
Galaxy held a sign that stated “Lesbians Against General Bullshit.” She sees this youth-led protest as connected to local issues, issues that are important to Seattle youth, such as the new youth jail and the North Seattle Police Precinct replacement.
“I think Trump’s bigotry will also lead to less education for already vulnerable people, will lead to lower graduation rates for vulnerable students and less funding for education,” said Galaxy, “which has been proven to lead to more kids going to jail, which then can have them grow up in a really corrupt police system, and it’s just a shitty domino effect.”
As a group of youth protesters passed stalled traffic, one student raised a fist of solidarity to the drivers.
Friday, 2 p.m., Seattle Center
At McCaw Hall, hundreds of volunteers helped an expected 1,000 immigrants, refugees and others get their papers in order in an event that represented Seattle’s commitment to its status as a “sanctuary city.”
The Seattle United event offered access to immigration attorneys for help with forms, assistance with plans in case families were divided and “Know Your Rights” workshops to learn what legal protections undocumented people have in the face of law enforcement.
Translators were available in many languages including Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Somali and Arabic. Earphones were available for workshops so that clients could hear the information in real time in their native tongue.
Representatives from Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Labor Standards reassured listeners that their services were available regardless of immigration status.
“Regardless of what happens on a federal level, this city will not tolerate discrimination,” said Michael Chin, an enforcement manager with OCR.
Norma Gonzalez, of the Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, delivered most of the content of the workshop, describing in detail when someone had to respond to police, how to tell the difference between immigration enforcement officials and the regular police and how to handle immigration raids.
One point she made loud and clear: No one knows what will happen over the next four years, but the challenges facing immigrant communities, and the Latinx community specifically, are nothing new.
“We have been facing negative policies for a long time,” Gonzalez said.
Friday, 3 p.m., Westlake Park
The student-led march met up with the immigrants’ rights march.
Friday, 4:30 p.m., Westlake Park
You may have seen them, the pink pussy hats that have taken Seattle by storm. They are the cute symbol of protest that depleted the entire city of pink yarn, forcing people to go to the internet so that they could knit like lightning to get the hats made in time for the Womxn’s March set to take place on Saturday.
That didn’t prevent people from sporting the hats on Inauguration Day as well, with people wandering the streets of downtown wearing them. Someone even knit one and placed it on the head on the Fremont Troll. A trio of women at the back of the Westlake rally all had theirs, one produced on demand, either home knit, gotten through the northside’s Fiber Gallery or won at a separate protest event.
“They’ve been knitting and crocheting as fast as they could,” said Laurel Henrickson of the Fiber Gallery.
This wasn’t Kathleen Warren’s first protest of the day. She and others had set up over the Interstate 5 freeway at 145th, an event organized through Nextdoor, the social media site exclusive to members of the same neighborhood.
“If Seattle is a rebel city, we need rebel neighborhoods,” Warren said.
Warren, Henrickson and Marilyn Harbert all planned to join the Womxn’s March the following Saturday to continue their protest of the Trump presidency and what it stood for.
Friday, 5 p.m., University of Washington
The protest against a speaking event by Milo Yiannopoulos is under way Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus.
Friday, 6 p.m., Warren G. Magnuson Park
Runners gathered near Lake Washington, just off Sand Point Way at Magnuson Park, for a 5-kilometer race to benefit Planned Parenthood. Many runners also wore the infamous pussy hats, along with glowing necklaces and bracelets as they jogged and ran through the darkened park.
Runners zipped through the area only to bottleneck at large, muddy puddles that blocked the way.
“I told you he wasn’t going to drain the swamp,” one runner yelled out.
Another replied: “This is what the next four years are going to be like.”
Saturday, 10 a.m., Judkins Park
Thousands descended upon Judkins Park in the Central District to prepare for the Womxn’s March on Seattle, one of many such marches across the United States organized in conjunction with a large Women’s March in Washington, D.C.
Saturday, 11:20 a.m., 1800 block of South Jackson Street
Shelly Yusif, from Capitol Hill, was trying to find her friends at the march, but had gotten lost along the way. She was holding a sign that read “My grandpa fought Nazis. So will I.”
Yusif admitted, she didn’t want to be here: “I actually don’t even like marching. I’m an introvert.”
But her grandfather died last year, in late March. Something he told her and her brothers before his passing stuck with her. He fought in France during World War II, and told his grandchildren he hoped something like that would never happen again.
“But I remember specifically him saying ‘But if it ever does, there’s not a whole lot you can do, but just do it,’” Yusif said. So that’s why she came out, she said — to do it.
Saturday, 11:49 a.m., 1200 block of South Jackson Street
Lilia Wong beamed as marchers walked by. The last time she attended a protest was in 1998, she said.
She held a sign almost three times as tall as her that read, “We will not be quiet during these dark times.”
“Just the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of negative talk and I have been just quietly stewing, and this is my first quiet stewing with everybody else,” she said.
Saturday, 12:50 p.m., Fourth Avenue and Yesler Way
Jillian Sevick and her friend pushed a child in a stroller and laughed together. Sevick came to Seattle from Portland so she could march with her friend.
Sevick is pregnant, and she said that’s what weighs on her most heavily.
“I’m bringing a child into this regime,” she said. “And that’s scary.”
She’s not quite sure what she’ll need to do to fight back in the coming years.
“Hell if I know,” she said, and laughed. But one thing she knew was that she would “not let this go.”
Saturday, 1:45 p.m., 400 block of Stewart Street
Gennie Thompson uses a walker, but she walked a mile before resting and watching protesters march by.
It was important for her to be here when there was so much at stake, she said.
“I think there’s so much risk to so many people of all races, all religions, all creeds, all sexes and our environment. We made so much progress in the last few decades and now it could all be erased,” she said.
But this crowd of protesters brought her hope.
“It is so empowering and everyone is so happy and everyone feels like we’re in this together, we can make a difference,” she said.
Blood on Red Square: Protester shot at Milo Yiannopoulos protest on UW campus