Spirited resistance movement sparks hope amid the fear and loathing.
Gallery of photography by Alan Pogue, James Retherford, and Nathalia Ochoa, below.
AUSTIN — As we suffer through the first month of the Trump presidency, with all its horrors, we have something very important to be thankful for: a thriving multi-faceted nationwide movement of resistance to Trump’s ultra-right-wing, hate-driven message.
And it all started with the massive mobilization January 20-21, 2017, the weekend of Trump’s inauguration.
The women’s actions — in Austin, nationally, and internationally — were significant because they constituted an act of great solidarity on the part of women around the world and a powerful, militant response to the shocking misogyny of Trump and his supporters; because they made for a triumphant counter-inauguration, bringing a resounding sense of hope to a very chilling narrative; and because they may have laid the groundwork for a serious anti-fascist resistance movement in this country.
Especially notable in Austin was the range of signs — supporting immigrants’ rights, public education, Muslims, Black Lives Matter, LGBT Rights, climate science, human rights, women’s right to choose — and the fact that the crowd was made up of women, men, and families of all ages, colors, and ethnicities.
And that there was such joy, humor, solidarity, and sense of purpose.
And, there were a whole lot of people!
Political scientists Jeremy Pressman and Erica Chenoweth have posted an elaborate breakdown of January 21 actions in 915 U.S. localities — with overall crowd estimates that range from 3.2 million to 5.2 million. And as many as 350,000 marched in other parts of the world.
Nate Silver wrote at FiveThirtyEight that, even based on the most conservative estimates, “It may very well have been the largest mass protest in American history.”
As The New York Times politely noted, “The women’s march in Washington was roughly three times the size of the audience at President Trump’s inauguration…”
The Austin march was massive by all estimates. The police had it at 40-50,000, clearly a conservative call, and organizers said 100,000. According to knowledgeable observers, 75-80,000 might be a smart guess. If you stood in one spot on Congress Avenue, it reportedly took two hours for the full march to pass by.
We should also note that 25,000 or more marched in Houston.
Melissa Fiero, primary organizer of the Women’s March on Austin, told the Austin American-Statesman: “There was a tremendous show of support behind the message that women’s rights are human rights. I was stunned that the turnout was considerably larger than what we had (imagined) in our wildest dreams.”
There actually were several major events in Austin, starting with a walkout and march at the University of Texas campus on Friday that was joined by large numbers of high school students. The Rag Blog’s Johnny Hazard estimated that the crowd grew to 1,500 at its peak.
According to the Daily Texan, “A coalition of groups — including Queer Trans Student Alliance, University Leadership Initiative, Native American Indigenous Collective, among others — planned the event to show solidarity with communities who could be impacted and threatened by the policies of the Trump administration.”
The Austin American-Statesman reported:
Earlier Friday, Austin high school students staged walk-outs at multiple campuses, including McCallum High School, where more than 100 students left classes and took Capital Metro buses to the larger protest on Auditorium Shores….
At one point, university marchers, who carried a banner reading “Unidos Contra Fascismo (United Against Fascism),” marched past a construction site where workers raised their fists in a salute as students chanted, “Sí se puede.”
Johnny Hazard reported that the Friday walkout and march were the most militant of the weekend’s activites, with sponsors including socialist, Marxist, and anarchist groups. “There was a constant presence of low-intensity provocateurs,” he said, most of them young male students.
The Statesman wrote:
Protesters, including students who arrived after walk-outs at high schools and the UT campus, gathered Friday afternoon at Auditorium Shores before marching up Congress Avenue carrying banners, drums and at least one Trump piñata… Austin Mayor Steven Adler, City Council Member Greg Casar and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin — who was one of dozens of congressional Democrats to boycott the inauguration — were among the protesters at a march organized by One Resistance, a coalition of dozens of community groups. Pre-march speakers rallied under a wide spectrum of causes, including immigration rights, labor issues and LGBTQ rights.
On its Facebook event page, One Resistance said, “America faces a crisis. Donald Trump’s presidency threatens millions. We must rally, protest, organize, and support one another. We must resist.” There were as many as 7,000 at the One Resistance event.
There was also a LGBTQ Human Rights Rally that drew an estimated 800.
In the month since the counter-inauguration, Austin has been a beehive of activism — even more than usual — with meetings, support groups, marches, and other activities – much of it in opposition to Trump’s immigration policies and in support of immigrants and sanctuary efforts.
Go to Alice Embree’s Rag Blog article, “Mourn, then organize,” for information about and links to resistance groups in Austin.
In a piece titled, “Why the Women’s March may be the start of a serious social movement,” Emily Kalah Gade wrote at the Washington Post that “Research into civil resistance… suggests not a one-time eruption, but a movement that’s about to dig in.”
We may have the greatest potential for radical organizing in this country since the ’60s and ’70s.
Let’s get it on.
In the photography galleries below, Alan Pogue shot the women’s march, Jim Retherford took pictures at both the women’s and One Resistance events, and Nathalia Ochoa was at the student walk-outs and ensuing march.
“Two of the first to arrive were Rag Blog editor Thorne Dreyer (right) and co-conspirator Jim Retherford, both with T-shirts that featured the word “PENDEJO” — like that, all caps — and a photograph of a guy with orange hair.” — Johnny Hazard / The Rag Blog
Photography by Alan Pogue:
Photography by James Retherford:
Photography by Nathalia Ochoa:
[Thorne Dreyer, the original “funnel” of The Rag in 1966, edits The Rag Blog and hosts Rag Radio.]
[Alan Pogue is an acclaimed documentary photographer who was staff photographer for the original Rag.]
[James Retherford is a writer and graphic designer who designed The Rag Blog.]
[Nathalia Ochoa, who is from El Salvador, is a student at the University of Texas at Austin.]