Today, Trump supporters in Michigan rallied at the state capital in Lansing, bringing with them cranes and trucks with professional Trump campaign signage – leading one to wonder, “Just which side is paying people to protest, precisely?” Indications of professional political campaign financing to the conservatives notwithstanding, resistance organizers all around Michigan organized a counter-march, in effect protesting against the counter-protesters protesting against our protest. Joe Montgomery of Ypsilanti was one such organizer, posting a page onto Facebook inviting people to march at the capital building, while other organizers created events at other Michigan cities as well. My wife and I chose to join the capital protest. Having several signs from previous protest actions, rallies, and marches, we found the signs we wanted, and drove to Lansing.
While the Trump supporters, with their seemingly well-financed materials, gathered by the capital building, we of the Resistance rallied first at Wentworth Park, just a few blocks away. We chanted as we gathered enough of a crowd to make an impact; then at noon, we marched to the capital building to launch our peaceful protest of the support rally.
Upon arriving at the capital building, we noticed people wearing and carrying Confederate battle-flag apparel and other materials; and contrarily flying the American flag as well (not apparently aware of the opposition of those two flags during the war in which both were flown, nor of the opposition of the ideas that those flags stood for). Mr. Montgomery also noted that one of the leaders of the support rally offered a Nazi “heil” salute at one point. While the regime’s speakers used megaphones from the side of the building to argue in favor of their doctrine of hatred and fear, we stood by the street and chanted the normal chants becoming ever more familiar to the Resistance.
The Trump supporters hurled insults at our crowd; while our marchers for the most part resisted the temptation to engage the other side (I saw only one marcher attempt a conversation with a Trump supporter; Trump supporters’ insults were generally ignored or laughed off as not being worth the time to recognize or requiring any response). Trump supporters called the marchers “snowflakes,” “losers,” and “cockroaches.” One Trump supporter walking past me called the marcher next to me a “whore.” This was a divide not just of politics; but of style of engagement and hostility. The Republicans were openly aggressive, hostile, unfriendly, and they directed their opposition not towards our positions but toward a simple adolescent recourse to personal invective; while our side deployed maturity, relevance on specific issues, and overt friendliness and positivity.
Many of our resisters noted further that while many of our signs argued for policy positions, very few of the Trump supporters’ signs did (most of the supporters carrying signs held only the standard-issue Trump-Pence campaign signs left over from last year). Another demonstrable difference between our two crowds was the expected ethnic difference; with our crowd’s great cultural diversity offsetting the depressingly homogeneous whiteness of the predominantly middle-aged and older supporters of Trump. In short, then, our crowd had not just a language and issues advantage; and not just an advantage of positivism over negativism; we also had the ethnic advantage, and the advantage of diversity of ages participating, young and middle-aged and old alike.
After sharing the space to the side of the capital building for about 15 minutes or so, Mr. Montgomery suggested we rally right on the front steps of the capital (some of our marchers later claimed to have earlier chased off the Trump supporters from those front steps). We marched around to the front steps, and there rallied where each marcher who wanted to speak to the crowd could. There, we were rallied by the improvised remarks of representatives of Women’s March and Planned Parenthood supporters, activists from By Any Means Necessary, students fearful of the regime’s implications on their education, immigrants fearful for the safety of their families, gay and transgender and cisgender and other people of all sorts of cultural identities fearful of the whitewashing over of their society by the hatred of the new administration and its supporters. Activists who had helped to fight against deportation sweeps and actions by state police and ICE agents spoke out about keeping our eyes open and actively standing in the way of the administration’s extremist agenda.
As with so many actions of the past two months, we of the Resistance showed each other great love and care for each other, regardless of our disjointed agenda of a thousand different issues. We applauded each other, hugged each other, and promised each other to stay networked in as we continue to form our twenty-first century resistance, a resistance (like that of the Arab Spring and in so many other places) that is enabled by today’s technology to develop with a power and speed unimaginable to resistance efforts of previous centuries. And the millennials who are even more plugged in to this technology are ever more the driving force of the Resistance.
All photographs ©2017, Sparkpolitical. With special thanks to Joe Montgomery.