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Grinnellians partake in direct action on Inauguration Day

Protestors in Chicago partake in direct action against a Trump presidency.
Protestors in Chicago partake in direct action against a Trump presidency.

Along with ushering Donald Trump into his presidency, Inauguration Day saw a large number of protesters take to the streets to reject the rhetoric and policies of the new president.

Trump has gained both support and opposition from the American people with the extremity of his views. Many people are unhappy with the direction that the president is taking with his new position of power. They have organized several protests across the nation to ensure their voices are heard.

Several Grinnellians were among those who refused to stay silent.

Sean Haggerty ’19 took part in a rally that started at McCormick Place in Chicago. People of diverse backgrounds came together at this large-scale protest where the numbers grew to the point where people were “taking over the streets of downtown and shutting down intersections,” he said.

When asked about how effective he thought direct action could be, Haggerty said that he felt it was “an essential tactic.”

“I think it can really transform the way people feel about and think about political issues,” Haggerty said. “It allows me and people to connect to something bigger than them and … feel like part of that collective.”

Nate Williams ’20 was present at the protests in Boston. He described his experience at one of the rallies as being “one of the most healing and supportive and active events that I’ve been to.”

However, both Haggerty and Williams expressed concerns over the lack of clear demands in some protests.

“It could have been more effective,” Haggerty said about the direct action that he was involved in. “There weren’t any clear demands being made by protesters.”

Williams similarly stated that the second protest that he went to didn’t have a list of demands and was more about “mobilizing people in that moment.”

“When there are marches that also don’t have that demand aspect and concrete change aspect, some things can sort of get lost,” said Williams.

How to craft effective direct action to promote change is still up for debate.

Professor Barbara Trish, Political Science, says that lacking concrete demands is not necessarily bad. People can go to protests without concrete demands and still gain something through knowing that there are people who share their views.

“I urge people not to discount the sense that you’re not alone,” Trish said.

She also stressed that the most important thing about direct action, and any movement, was to make sure that people stayed “invested and interested.”

“I think that’s the real key. Whether or not there are concrete demands or whether it’s just a sign of opposition — that it can’t be just a one shot deal,” Trish said.

Williams agreed, saying that the protests have “an effect of giving people the tools later on to be able to do more local, small-scale direct action.”

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