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Anti-Trump Protesters Take to Richmond Streets
By Amelia Heymann and Maura Mazurowski
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – More than 100 demonstrators marched through Richmond on Friday evening to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.
DISRUPTJ20RVA, a social movement group, organized the event.
“Join local activists as we demonstrate that we won’t tolerate the white supremacist agenda of the incoming administration,” organizers wrote in a description on a Facebook event page. “The Trump presidency will exacerbate city and statewide struggles by undoing the hard work of countless community members.”
Unlike some other anti-Trump protests, Friday’s demonstrators in Richmond were peaceful. There were no violent interactions, destruction of property, attempts to block highway traffic or arrests. (However, as a CNS reporter was recording a video of the demonstrators, one of them grabbed the journalist’s phone and threw it off a bridge. The reporter managed to retrieve it thanks to the help of two other protesters.)
DISRUPTJ20RVA held a brief rally at Abner Clay Park in Jackson Ward. At about 6:45 p.m., the protesters made their way to Broad Street led by a sign reading “Resistance starts here.”
Participants spilled down Broad Street, turned north onto Lombardy Street and circled the roundabout at Admiral Street and Brook Road. Protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter”, “F*ck Pence”, “Whose streets? Our streets!” and other slogans.
According to DISRUPT20RVA activists, the march in Richmond was one of many across the country protesting Trump and his incoming administration’s policies. The group vowed “a series of massive direct actions that will shut down the Inauguration ceremonies and any related celebrations.”
Dozens of officers from the Richmond Police Department followed the protesters on bikes. Koury Wilson, the department’s public information officer, said safety was their “utmost concern” among demonstrators and residents alike. Also present at the protest were legal observers from the Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“We’re here to observe from the sidelines,” said Charlie Schmidt, the public policy associate of ACLU-VA. “Tonight we’re most interested in interactions between police officials and citizens.”
Earlier Friday afternoon, DISRUPTJ20 held a teach-in and discussion at Gallery 5. The group discussed tactics on dealing with police confrontation in preparation for the protest. Demonstrators were advised to exercise their right to remain silent, ask officers if they were being detained and call a legal help hotline if arrested.
Some of the demonstrators apparently were parents. So DISRUPTJ20 provided child care services at Art 180 for protesters until 10 p.m.
Mallory O’Shea, the media coordinator for DISRUPTJ20, refused to give a formal statement to Capital News Service about the event or the organization behind it.