Thousands ‘Unite’ In Passionate, But Peaceful Inauguration Day Protests

By Craig Clough City News Service

Several thousand protesters converged on City Hall today to voice their outrage over the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Two different groups — one starting in Boyle Heights and another near Staples Center — met up on Spring Street outside City Hall’s west entrance a little before 1 p.m.

“We organized this event to make sure to cross the bridge and protest Donald Trump,” Sol Marquez, an organizer with Centro CSO who marched with the Boyle Heights group, told City News Service.

“We are here to say that we won’t stand for his hatred.”

While marchers were vocal while chanting slogans like, “The people united must never be divided,” the protest was peaceful. Law enforcement presence at the scene was minimal, featuring several dozen officers and sheriff’s deputies in regular uniforms.

Officer Tony Im with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section said no arrests had taken place anywhere in the city related to an inauguration protest.

An officer on scene around 1 p.m. estimated that about 3,000 to 4,000 protesters were on Spring Street, but by 3 p.m. the size of the crowd had diminished, as had the size of the law enforcement presence. By 4:30 p.m. the protest was winding down and its organizers were packing up.

The number of protesters was below the 10,000 predicted Thursday by some organizers.

The morning rainstorm may have kept some at home, but not long after the protesters started to assemble the rain paused and the sun came out for a few minutes, causing many in the crowd to cheer.

The Boyle Heights protest began at Mariachi Plaza before moving to the Federal Building and then City Hall. The protest that began near Staples Center was organized by more than 90 groups and began at Olympic Boulevard and Figueroa Street.

A common point of anger for the protesters at City Hall was Trump’s stated proposals to begin mass deportations of immigrants living in the country illegally.

“We are working toward building a coalition that can defeat Trump’s agenda. That means defending immigrant rights,” Lorenzo Osterheim, a student at Pasadena City College and member of Students for a Democratic Society, told CNS.

But there were other issues on the minds of protesters as well, including the hacking campaign allegedly orchestrated by the Russian government to help Trump during the election, his refusal to release his tax returns, his views on the environment and the crude audio recording that caught him bragging about sexually assaulting women.

One protester held a sign that said, “I pay legitimate taxes, I want a legitimate president,” while another sign simply said, “Rapist.”

A large bus with a digital billboard on it that read “United Against Hate” was parked in front of the City Hall steps on Spring Street and a number of speakers addressed the crowd from the roof of the bus through a P.A. system.

“Trump will deregulate the little restrictions we have on Wall Street,” Carolyn Gomez of the Party for Socialism and Liberation told the crowd. “He will smash environmental regulations so that resources can be extracted and profited from by corporations while leaving the environment in an abysmal state.”

Skirmishes in Washington did turn violent today, with protesters breaking store windows and tear gas being used on some of them by police.

Other protests were held today across Los Angeles, including the “Caravan of Justice” in South Los Angeles that included several dozen groups, such as Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Los Angeles Community Action Network and United Teachers Los Angeles.

The “Caravan of Justice” began at Leimert Park at 9 a.m., with about 100 protesters boarding three busses to travel to other sites around the city before returning to Leimert Park at 2 p.m., said Jasmyne Cannick, who is doing media promotions for the protest.

“The reason why these groups came together was because they did not feel like the protests that are taking place in downtown Los Angeles were being inclusive of people of color,” Cannick said.

The Los Angeles Unified School District declared today “Unity Day 2017” at its campuses  ”to encourage students to participate in the civic-engagement process and to promote schools as safe and appropriate venues for meaningful dialogue about the presidential election,” according to the
district.

District officials said they developed lesson plans and activities for the day geared primarily to high school students, but available for students in all grades. The activities included “unity dances,” poster-making gatherings and “justice circles” to discuss the issues.

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January 20, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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