J20 Bay Area Counter-Inaugural: 120 hours of direct action

From Martin Luther King Day to Inauguration Day, the San Francisco Bay Area seethed with protests, shutdowns and other actions. The Anti Police-Terror Project called for 120 hours of direct action, beginning Jan. 16 with the APTP’s thousands-strong March to Reclaim King’s Radical Legacy.  (See WW, Jan. 19.)

Twenty-two actions were listed on the APTP Spokescouncil calendar from after the MLK march to J20, with another 13 actions for the Jan. 20 counterinauguration protests alone. The list did not include a number of more clandestine actions, described below, which were not posted.

A few of the mid-week events were:

Wednesday: Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. made a special presentation to the APTP general membership meeting in Oakland on “Organizing in the Age of Trump.” He spoke on the importance of analyzing events from the perspective of those whose interests are affected versus those who stand to gain. He talked about why he calls his hometown of Chicago, Chiraq (Chicago/Iraq), due to police militarization against the Black community.

Thursday: Disclose, a transgender-inclusive Bay Area art-activism collective dedicated to facilitating active engagement in the eradication of sexual violence, culture and sexual assault, held a “We Will Not Be Silent” action. About 75 sexual abuse survivors and supporters marched from Oakland City Hall to the Oakland Police Headquarters. A videotape of survivors — of sex trafficking, domestic violence and gender-focused violence — speaking against their abusers was projected on the OPHQ wall. The Oakland Police Department is notorious for its officers caught repeatedly last summer trafficking a minor. In a threatening duplication of the patriarchal behavior of the typical abuser, OPD helicopters flew low over the march, impeding attendees’ abilities to hear speakers. The OPD also brought in two L-RAD sound cannons, a military weapon used to injure the ears of enemies.

Thursday: A Noise Demo was held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, where a major expansion for a prison “mental health wing” is planned. Protesters held signs reading, “Money for mental health, not jails or prison cells” and “House keys, not handcuffs.”

Friday: On Jan. 20 the Bay Area lit up with actions. The day started early in San Francisco, where APTP coordinated with the Bay Area Solidarity Action Team (which has a number of affinity groups) to send the message that there would be no business as usual, beginning the day of Trump’s inauguration.

  • Some 50 people blocked the entrance of Uber’s corporate headquarters in protest of CEO Travis Kalanick’s participation in Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Chaining themselves to the building’s entrances, they prevented any employees from entering. They also blocked off Market Street, holding large signs that read “Uber collaborates with Trump” and “SF resists Trump.”
  • At 8:30 a.m. another group of a dozen, chained to each other, stood across the Caltrains tracks at 16th and Mississippi in San Francisco, blocking trains in both directions for three hours, until they were arrested.
  • Jewish Resistance locked down the front doors of San Francisco’s Israeli Embassy. They announced, through media contact Faryn Borella: “We’re telling the consulate that we don’t support the ongoing occupation of Palestine and the way that it’s connected with militarized policing here in the U.S. We don’t support Trump appointments like Jared Kushner to oversee the peace process and David Friedman as ambassador to Israel.”
  • Wells Fargo headquarters and a Bank of America site were also locked down by other protesters in solidarity with Standing Rock and the movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • People blocked the entrances to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in San Francisco in protest of Trump’s announced plans to build a wall at the Mexican border and to continue to deport immigrants.
  • Jobs with Justice, supported by the San Francisco Labor Council, led a march of more than 1,000 demonstrators from Justin Herman Plaza throughout San Francisco’s financial district. They stopped in solidarity at many of the shutdowns, ending at 555 California, an office tower owned in part by Trump. After a rally there, people poured onto the office building’s plaza.
  • Jobs with Justice and the SFLC held a rally at Carl’s Jr. downtown to protest Trump’s nomination for labor secretary Andrew Puzder, CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardees fast-food chains. Protesters then joined a rally at Union Square organized by the Answer Coalition.

In Berkeley a crowd of more than 1,500, primarily students and other youth, filled Sproul Plaza at the University of California at noon to oppose the Trump agenda. Speakers included two teenage students from among the many who had walked out of Berkeley High School that day. One young woman speaker said, “Don’t tell me I can’t love my girlfriend!” Signs included, “I will not stop fighting you,” “No fascist USA” and “Art historians against Trump.” A young Black man led the crowd in chanting, “Black Brown unity! This is the place for Sanctuary.”

Several longshore workers from International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 attended the rally, announcing that their local had shut down all Bay Area ports to express their opposition to Trump. Several speakers from Labor Rising Against Trump addressed the rally, including Juan Garcia, a university employee, and Alborz Ghandehari, a leader in the fight for required Ethnic Studies in the UC system. After the rally, the crowd marched on Telegraph Avenue to downtown Oakland to join other protests there.

In Oakland at Oscar Grant Plaza, there was a Mutual Aid Fair in the morning, a “March of the Working Class” up Broadway and down Telegraph, and then a speak-out for students in the afternoon.

Contributors to this article included Tristen Schmidt and Dave Welsh.

(WW photos: Terri Kay)

(WW photos: Terri Kay)