Anarchists who believe “the peaceful transition of power is a threat to all of us” are planning to lead thousands of protesters to Washington next week to ruin Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The group, called #DisruptJ20, is planning protests in cities nationwide on Jan. 20, but the protests in Washington would receive the most attention if the protesters’ plans succeed. Organizer Legba Carrefour told the Washington Examiner the protesters’ preparations began in June and are culminating in what they call “Operation Clusterfuck.” The #DisruptJ20 group is providing housing for 1,000 participants thus far and is working with other groups for its protest.
“We’re not making the argument that we’re going to stop the inauguration; that is a physical impossibility,” Carrefour said. “We are making the argument that we can ruin the notion that this is a peaceful transition of power.”
The first part of the plan involves blocking “all of the major ingresses into the city especially from the south,” meaning that the protesters intend to make entering the District from Virginia an “absolute nightmare” by closing highways and stopping trains headed into the city.
“You have to start looking at the idea of the metropolis is what actually furthers and enables global capitalism and the modern state,” Carrefour said. “The reason why Black Lives Matter started blocking highways was because highways and the normal functioning of the city is actually intrinsic to things like racism.”
The second component includes preventing people from attending the inauguration festivities by blockading each checkpoint to attend the inauguration. Carrefour said various groups coordinating with #DisruptJ20 are spearheading that effort, and individual checkpoints will have protesters championing various causes such as climate change and Black Lives Matter.
The human barriers created by the protesters will vary from checkpoint to checkpoint, meaning some protesters may simply stand in the way of people looking to enter while other protesters may look to do “technical lockdowns.” Technical lockdowns include such actions as the “sleeping dragon” in which two people stick their arms in PVC piping and then someone else chains or cements the inside so that removing the protesters would involve breaking their arms.
After that, the #DisruptJ20 protesters have multiple marches planned. One march will depart Columbus Circle at noon and head toward McPherson Square, a few blocks from the White House, for a rally that Carrefour said has obtained the necessary permits from the government. The National Park Service grants permits to groups demonstrating with more than 25 people on certain public lands in the nation’s capital. Three activist groups have applied for permits for McPherson Square, according to the National Park Service, but their permits were still “processing” as of Jan. 7.
While the Columbus Circle march will feature like-minded liberals unhappy with Trump, a separate “anti-capitalist” march that Carrefour said would be more “confrontational” will start from Logan Circle at 9 a.m. and go wherever it pleases. The Logan Circle march has no permit.
Less than one mile away from Logan Circle, a group called “Let America Hear Us, Roar for Trump” will demonstrate downtown near Dupont Circle. The National Park Service granted the pro-Trump group a permit for 500 anticipated participants.
Carrefour said the #DisruptJ20 group will be ready for any trouble it might encounter.
“We are preparing for the possibility of sporadic fights breaking out because people are very emotional about this,” Carrefour said. “So it wouldn’t shock us if confrontations did occur, however we do not anticipate any kind of mass melee to occur.”
Carrefour said the #DisruptJ20 crowd is not training its people in self-defense or instructing people to be violent, and he said the group is good at employing de-escalation techniques to prevent skirmishes. The organizers of the protest are planning training sessions for later this week.
If #DisruptJ20 protesters do get arrested, however, the protesters have a legal team in place. The protesters’ website provides legal guidance for participants, and Carrefour said two legal teams are assisting the group. One team will be in an office identifying the protesters headed to individual jails, while a secondary team will go to the jails to facilitate getting the protesters out of lockup.
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