From the Archive
Inauguration Resistance and Petition to Report Deaths in Custody
We wanted to send out a recap of our witness at the Inauguration Resistance and the Women’s March in D.C. You may view more photos at the following links:
Women’s March on Washington
We direct you again to WAT’s statement opposing Trump’s agenda on torture and detention, and to the new video that Justin made to break down what needs to happen to close Guantanamo, now that Trump is president. Our friends, the Peace Poets created a new spoken word video to encourage us in these difficult times – view it here.
Lastly, we have included an ask from our partners the Coalition of Concerned Mothers – please sign their petition here and read about their work.
WAT Witnesses at Trump’s Inauguration, Attends Women’s March
O crisis, intensify! The morning is about to break forth.
Even though the bands tighten and seem unbreakable,
They will shatter.
Those who persist will attain their goal;
Those who keep knocking shall gain entry.
O crisis, intensify!
The morning is about to break forth.
–from the poem O Prison Darkness by Abdulaziz in Poems from Guantanamo
We reflected on this poetry as thirty WAT members circled up at First Trinity’s Church Hostel on January 20 before we went into the pre-dawn darkness at 6:30 am to demonstrate at the Inauguration. We processed to a nearby security checkpoint close to the Mall. We had a long row of folks in orange jumpsuits and black hoods; a robust team of guides, given the darkness; a security team, given the potential for hostile Trump supporters; as well as a choreographer, a medic, and people assigned to media and leafletting. We were ready.
We joined a huge crowd of Palestinian human rights supporters and antiwar protesters at D St. and First St. NW. Our banner holders silently faced the police amid a raucous sea of chanting. As dawn broke, we extracted ourselves from the crush and moved a half block away. There we faced the line of people waiting to enter the inauguration. Back at the intersection, riot police moved in, but we stayed safely out of the fray.
Our hooded detainees holding anti-torture banners provided a dramatic tableau that drew hundreds upon hundreds of people snapping photos or recording videos. The steady flow of humanity, which included Trump supporters and protesters, was, for the most part, respectful and peaceful. Whenever a person seemed hostile, a member of the security team was right there beside the WAT member being confronted in order to provide a united, nonviolent front. We received some derisive comments that echoed words we’ve heard from Trump concerning torture and Gitmo. We understood the challenge that faces us as we go forward from this day.
We stayed at our post until 10:00 am, having committed to occupy that space while other protest groups went to another check point where Black Lives Matter had completely blocked entrance to the inauguration. We later heard from one BLM member who told us how wonderful it had been to look up from their protest and see all the white faces surrounding and supporting them.
Many of our activists stayed another night, so we could attend the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21st. This time we carried our own personal messaging as women and as men supporting women. All 25 of us stepped off together, but we split into smaller groups, intentionally and unintentionally, as the day progressed and we moved through an incredible sea of humankind. One group actually heard and saw some speeches on a jumbotron. Many of us, however, had no idea there were any speeches, but we found the crowd itself to be fabulous. A couple of first timers kept asking when we were going to get to the march, and we told them they were in it! The throng was so big that the march had to self-assemble on at least 5 parallel streets. The big hits of the day were the creative signs and the sense of love and community that enveloped us all.
But how shall we educate men to goodness, to a sense of one another, to a love of the truth? And more urgently, how shall we do this in a bad time?—Daniel Berrigan, S.J.
Coalition of Concerned Mothers Banner a Big Hit at the Women’s March
Sign Their Petition to Demand Reporting of All Deaths in Police Custody
The Coalition of Concerned Mothers is a dynamic group of women who are trying to make sure no other mothers suffer what they have: the killing of their children by police or by senseless community gun violence. During this January’s fast, WAT met with members of the Coalition, as we have in years past. Hearing the stories of how their children were killed and their struggles for justice, was heartbreaking, but strengthened our resolve to support their efforts to stop the senseless killing.
Please sign their petition demanding the Department of Justice begin enforcing laws requiring the reporting of all deaths in police custody:
According to President Marion Gray Hopkins and Vice-President Cynthia deShola Dawkins, “Because of the Death in Custody Reporting Act and Arrest Related Death Act the Department of Justice has the legal responsibility to require law enforcement agencies to report any and all deaths of people while in custody. To date, although this law has been in place for several years, the financial penalties on law enforcement agencies for not complying have not been enforced.”
We need this information. The victims of police brutality are not just hashtags. They are brothers, daughters, mothers and fathers, many of whom we never hear about. Police brutality, especially against people of color, is systemic and in order to address this national crisis legislatively our elected officials need these reports.