On 20 January, 2017, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Following an electoral campaign rife with sexism, racism, bigotry, fascism, and just about every other flavour of despicable behaviour and action imaginable, much of the world looked on in fear and anger as Trump was sworn into office in Washington, DC.
Despite inflammatory and demonstrably false claims by new White House press secretary Sean Spicer, the biggest crowds of the weekend gathered not to witness Trump’s inauguration, but to protest it. From Washington to Alaska and in cities all around the world, an estimated one million-plus people gathered to give voice to their outrage at the election of one of the most controversial figures in US political history.
In London and across the UK, protests began at sunrise on the 20th, with actions organised by UK-based community Bridges Not Walls. On 10 bridges in London (and 250+ bridges worldwide, spread across 5 continents), demonstrators draped banners over the river Thames to declare their solidarity with women, the LGBTQ+ community, migrants, people of colour, Muslims, and other impacted communities in the face of Trump’s presidency and far-right politics.
Stand Up To Trump protest, US Embassy in London
Around 300 people descended on the US Embassy in London on the evening of the 20th for actions organised by Stand Up To Racism, the timing of which coincided with Trump’s inauguration in Washington. The protest, alongside joint actions in more than 20 cities and towns across the UK, was backed by over 50 British MPs.
Women’s March on London
On 21 January, over 1 million people across the world took to the streets to join the Women’s March. Plans for the march began last year in Washington, but sister marches were soon being organised across the globe.
Some 100,000 people took part in the Women’s March on London, which began at the US Embassy and wound its way through Central London for nearly three hours before concluding with a rally at Trafalgar Square.
2016 was a year that for many, myself included, was one blanketed by uncertainty, shock, fear, and anger — not only for myself, but also (and more critically) for my loved ones, and the billions of people around the globe who stand to be hit hardest by the undeniable rise of far-right politics.
In these times, it often feels as though any attempt at hope that might arise is doomed to be trampled under the footsteps of reality. It becomes nigh on impossible to be filled with any emotion other than sinking, sickening dread. The events of this past weekend have reminded me — and I suspect millions of others — that there is a bottomless power in unity, in solidarity, and in feminism.
There was a beautiful and proud strength that radiated throughout the events of the past two days, most potently at the Women’s March. I’m so grateful to have experienced this, and I hope that this sense of strength is something we can all of us bottle up and hold tight within. We’re going to need it.