January 20th Web Reports on Anti-Innauguration Protests

Revolutionary Worker #1266, January 30, 2005, posted at rwor.org

The following reports about January 20 anti- inauguration protests are from our correspondents in several cities:


From Kaz, a member of the NION Youth Network:

On January 20th, 2005, Atlanta youth walked out of their high schools and protested to say No! to the whole Bush agenda. An estimated 200 youth from around eight different Atlanta area high schools walked out, some in defiance of school, parents, and even law, to show their disgust with the Bush administration. After students walked out they went to a march that went from the CNN center to the capital, followed by a rally. The rally called for no mandate for Bush and no mandate for the Georgia legislature. It was a polarizing day for youth - youth were asked on this day to choose a side. Either go along with your everyday life and ignore or support the inauguration of a criminal or stand with the interests of the people of the world and walk out.

This walkout was put together by the Atlanta Not In Our Name Youth Network. We put together a flyer encouraging people to walkout on this day and printed out hundreds. We passed on bundles and bundles of these flyers to different people we met at various schools, and kept up with these contacts daily offering help, and also learning from these various organizers′ experiences. These youth took this flyer to their schools, hung them up in and around the school, passed them out, and dropped them down stairwells, encouraging their fellow students to walkout. Among the schools that were represented were: Decatur, Harrison, Paideia, Galloway, Walden, Grady, and a few others. Even schools who had thought they had a conservative student body like Walden were able to bring out around 25 students. Walden students are now interested in starting their own Not In Our Name chapter, while schools closer to metropolitan Atlanta are checking out the Atlanta network. Their were also two banner drops in Atlanta done by some youth that walked out. The youth brought a lot of spirit to the event along with a truly important question: where do we go from here? To help answer this question there was a quick youth gathering after the rally to exchange contacts so that we can plan further activities. There was also a youth discussion that took place in a nearby coffee shop that went at this question more deeply. The overall sentiment suggested that we needed more organization and more action, and we saw the beginning of that today. The day ended with a counter inaugural ball attended by around 150 people, where we celebrated our day of resistance and met and networked with other activists.


Performers, Writers, and Artists Unite in Resistance
by Drew Hampton, Chicago Revolutionary Writers and Artists Collective

On Thursday, January 20th, while Bush and his crew spent 40 million dollars, celebrating everything except serving the will of the people, dissent was in the air. Some people dressed in black to express their discontent while others vowed not to spend a dime, hoping to have an economic impact. Thousands of students organized in walkouts, protests, and anti-Bush events.

I had the pleasure of attending a Chicago event entitled "Resist! Anti-Inaugural Ball and Art Show." Resist! was organized by a small group of writers and artists who share the common goal of making a better future. They united over 20 artists, poets, performers, and teachers in a successful attempt to draw out like-minded people against Bush and the future he represents. The event began with an energizing gathering and procession in which about 150 people marched to the sound of music and hopeful cheers. The procession lead people from all walks of life on a hopeful one-mile journey through the streets in cold and snowy weather. We soon warmed after passing under a bridge draped with banners stating: "He′s not our president: RESIST."

The march led straight into ACME Art Works, a progressive artists′ community space and café, where the show was held. Inside, artists and performers expressed their anger, concern, and discontent through their photos, paintings, poetry and music. Some featured works included a wall of voodoo dolls which were sent in from all over the United States, representing the "evil doer" himself. Also featured were several amazing linoleum prints by Carlos Cortez, an artist with a large body of work representing many of the struggles of the working class and of the Mexican-American people. One could not miss the branding display where an artist heated large iron letters and burned the words "We will resist" onto room-length sheets of paper. Several films were shown; the documentary "Axis of Evil" featured professors and activists decoding Bush′s simplistic speech messages and opposing the dividing of the world into such categories as "good" and "evil; a new 2-hour sampler of the Bob Avakian DVD "Revolution: Why It′s Necessary, Why It′s Possible, What It′s All About" played on an "open mic" TV screen and drew conversation and debate. In another room some of the most incredible performances of poetry and music were taking place with Master of Ceremonies, Kevin Coval, who did an outstanding job.

In these times, events like this are of incredible importance. They help to unify various progressive groups, advance class-consciousness, and show the world that the people crave a different way of life and that another world is in fact possible. Let′s not let the inauguration day be the last of our resistance. We need to resist and fight to take back what rightfully belongs to the people in order to obtain the future that we dream of.


Soon after noon, groups began assembling with their blue flags and Not In Our Name′s red "Not Our President" posters to begin four marches along major Honolulu arteries to the State Capitol. About 60 students and faculty left the University of Hawaii with bullhorns, a makeshift "sound machine" on a shopping cart, and a dozen black-shirted art students carrying poles with grotesque masks of George W. mounted at the top, and walked the three miles to the Capitol along Honolulu′s central King Street. Marches from other parts of the city included Vietnam veterans, high school students, religious leaders and tourists. Chants of "Not Our President! Not In Our Name" bounced off the buildings of the downtown business area. The groups converged at the front of the State Capitol to deliver a high-spirited message to passersby who honked and shouted their support. State legislators and aides came out of their offices as the amplified sounds of Ozomatli called everyone to the rally in the State Capitol Rotunda. The reading of the new Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience opened the rally, followed by a speaker who had lived in Nazi Germany during the rise of Hitler who called on everyone to speak out and build resistance before it was too late. One by one, anti-war activists, rebellious women and gay rights advocates, pacifists and communists, Muslims and Christians, young and old, denounced the direction the Bush administration is taking, and called on people to stand together to build a movement of resistance. A Muslim speaker choked up as he talked of the hope he felt at the sight of about 300 people who had taken off work and school to speak out against Bush′s anti-people policies. The Hawaii RCP spokesperson painted a picture of the two futures that are confronting each other, challenged the audience to compare the vision of George W. Bush with the vision of Bob Avakian, and to check out the Party and its leader. She also challenged the audience to soundly reject a recent wave of redbaiting, and to firmly stand together in our resistance to Christian fascism, which was received with great applause.

As the words of John Lennon′s "Imagine" echoed in the rotunda of the State Capitol at the end of the rally, the anti-Bush attitude that had dominated the beginning of the day had been infused with a spirit of hopefulness. The horror of Inauguration Day had been turned into an opportunity to broaden and strengthen the movement of resistance. A small hole had been pierced in the shroud of despair that has characterized the mood here after the elections. New people came forward to ask how they could get involved in building a greater movement of resistance, and discussions around the Statement continued on into the night.

Los Angeles

As the sun descended into the horizon, 5,000 people gathered together at the Westwood Federal Building raising messages they had written on bed sheets and refrigerator boxes and painted on canvases, expressing their opposition to Bush’s inauguration.

Students and medical workers from UCLA – many still in their scrubs—, a neighborhood car caravan from a suburb east of L.A., some of the more than 300 students who walked out of local high schools and colleges, many hundreds more who felt frustrated, angry, or betrayed by the November 2 nd election, and a Holocaust survivor who warned of the similarities between Hitler and Bush joined in a long line of protestors along Wilshire Blvd.—one of the most traveled and busiest streets in L.A. They waved signs that read things like "No Mandate," "1 in 55 million who did not vote for Bush," and "Not My President."

Many of the people there have been politicized by their opposition to the Iraq war and the Bush agenda, but many others had never considered joining a protest until their opposition could no longer be quietly contained and their anger boiled over as they listened to Bush’s inaugural speech. One woman described it something she felt was her duty "as a citizen of the planet Earth it’s time to talk about what we want our future to be."

San Francisco Bay Area

The days activities started in the early morning with bannering of NOT OUR PRESIDENT, NOT IN OUR NAME banners in a dozen places scattered throughout the North and South Bay. The banner display caught the attention of a TV station who came out to the site to interview those taking part in the activity. (This station later listed down the whole list of NION activities for the rest of the day.)

At noon, there was a counter-inaugural "turn your back on Bush" action at the Federal building of about 50 people along with a press conference with speakers from Justice For Janitors, Planned Parenthood, a statement from Michael Franti and NION.

Three hundred people joined the NION feeder march into the main protest called by ANSWER in downtown after work. An estimated 5,000 people were at the demo. A crew of proletarian youth hanging out downtown joined the march chanting "Not Our President" which lent a good edge to the crowd.

The Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience was read on Pacifica (for nationwide airing) by Ed Asner. Local mainstream radio news ran part of a NION activist reading the statement. The Oakland Tribune had a large photo of a "Not Our President" banner over I-80 (the main East Bay Freeway) at rush hour on the front page right under their article on the inauguration. The Chronicle had protest coverage including "Not Our President" signs on first page of local news section. The Chronicle reported that Berkeley mayor Tom Bates, speaking at an anti-inauguration event, said, "Every element of our society is under attack... We live in incredibly dangerous times."


Students came from around 20 area colleges and community colleges, city high schools, alternative high schools as well as schools in suburbs and outlying areas to the downtown NION protest in Seattle. They came in groups, with clubs and as individuals. There was a tremendous spirit of optimism from the youth. One high school student said to loud cheers, "Students with passion are people with power. We are young and we have the energy and the enthusiasm to carry this on, We can do it!"

Among the students there was a lot of sentiment that we need to take back the US, make it be what is should be- show people of world we care. Opposition to Bush, war and direction of things. Also sentiments of needing to do this with non-violence, but also revolutionary sentiments were part of the mix. One Edmonds-Woodway High student said, "Fuck Bush, Fuck Kerry, revolution is necessary." Students from this school are fighting with the administration who are trying to prevent them from forming a political student club- they brought 14 students to protest. One student from South Whidbey High School told of how she and a group of students protested during elections on the streets and letters were sent to the local paper about how they were too young to know what’s going on- she responded that "we’re not too young and we have rights, first amendment rights"

Susan Livingstone, whose brother, Joseph M.D. Blickenstaff, a 23-year-old Oregon man and member of the Fort Lewis-based Stryker Brigade was killed in Iraq in December 2003, said that people must remember it′s not only Americans who are being killed, but over 120,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, and "each one of them feels the same way we do".

A former Army Ranger, recently returned from Afghanistan and Iraq, pulled off his cap to reveal a blue mohawk. He said, "We had soldiers die, but guess what man, there’s a lot more civilians getting blown up every day for no apparent reason." and, "I guess you’re my new family after I denounced everything else." When he went into the crowd, people grabbed him to embrace him.

A student from the Tacoma School of the Arts said, "I’m sick of being lied to, especially when it costs the lives of Americans, and it costs the lives of Iraqis. I think it’s time that the people come first, and not the oil and not the money."