Monday, January 23, 2017

On the Frontline With Black Lives Matter at Donald Trump's Inauguration
Within hours of Trump taking office, pages on the White House website that had been devoted to civil rights were replaced with a threat to make life uncomfortable for protesters and end the "dangerous anti-police atmosphere"


Scene from Mic Network Inc. short documentary on Black Lives Matter actions at Trump inauguration in Washington, DC Friday, January 20.

Washington, DC – Friday morning January 20 began before sunrise for Black Lives Matter. The inauguration of Donald Trump had our local Washington, DC chapter working overtime.

Along with other organizations in The Movement for Black Lives, we were on our way to shut down one of several checkpoints leading into Washington Mall. A group of largely young Black women, queer and trans folk chained themselves to the steel barricades at several entry points. Protesters successfully shut down many of them as angry Trump supporters tried unsuccessfully to break through our ranks.

Multiple anti-Trump actions were held around DC. Thousands more marched and took to the streets across the nation as part of #disruptJ20, a mass mobilization against Trump, as well as a call to hold the powers that be to a higher moral standard.

Since the election of Trump – largely due to an outdated Electoral College system developed to protect the interests of slave owners in the South – unrest in the U.S. has been at an all-time high.

Hate crimes and instances of abuse against women, queer and trans people, immigrants, Muslims and Black people have surged.

Suddenly, all of those grand threats that Trump had made throughout his campaign – from repealing the Affordable Care Act, to building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and creating a Muslim registry – are becoming all too real.

As awful as Trump is, the billionaires and white nationalists he has surrounded himself with and that make up his administration, is what's truly frightening.

Within hours of Trump taking the oath of office, pages on the official White House website that had been devoted to LGBT rights, the challenges of climate change and civil rights history were removed and replaced. Alarmingly, a page entitled, Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community, was among the additions.

It states that the "Trump Administration will be a law and order administration" that "the dangerous anti-police atmosphere is wrong" and that the Administration "will end it."

The website goes on to say that "the Administration's job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, or the violent disrupter."

Trump was officially endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and his attack on protest is part of a growing trend of positioning the police as a persecuted and mistreated group, even in the face of a number of high-profile shootings of Black men by the very police Trump seeks to defend. The police are not a marginalized group. The police are a militarized entity protected by the state, with ever-increasing budgets and political immunity.

The Administration's promise not to make protesters “comfortable," denies the reasons why people have been taking to the streets in protest since Ferguson. Black people are demanding an end to homicide by police. We are demanding a life that’s full and absent of fear. Whether or not we are made uncomfortable in our pursuit of our goals is inconsequential.

The idea that Black people pose an equal threat to police is not new. But unsurprisingly, this misleading attitude has found its way to Canada.

Last week, the board of Pride Toronto voted to accept all of Black Lives Matter -Toronto's demands made during last summer's sit-in at the parade, including the immediate removal of police floats in future Pride marches. The vote determined that many people do not feel safe with increased police presence at Pride.

But Kellie Leitch, the "Canadian values" MP running for the Conservative Party of Canada leadership, who uses a Trump-like white nationalist populism, issued a statement on Facebook that the board "should not succumb to the bullies at BLM."

A bully uses superior strength or influence to intimidate or harm those with less power. Calling for an end to police brutality and needless death by police is not bullying. That our appeals are seen as an attack on police is absurd. What could be a clearer indication of anti-Black racism?

The Trump Administration’s attack on civil rights, immigrant communities, and reproductive and LGBTQ rights, is a wake-up call for America. For Black Lives Matter, it's a reflection of the consolidation of power and hatred that has existed in America since its founding. Black resistance will persist despite it.

Janaya Khan is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter - Toronto and active in the group in both Toronto and Los Angeles. | @nowtoronto

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