It’s the evening of January 2 and bitterly cold out, but inside the Central District’s Washington Hall, the air is warm and buzzing. With a mere 18 days left until inauguration, Seattleites are gearing up for a President Trump.
Hundreds of people fill every chair and inch of wall space, arming themselves with protest songs, messages of hope, pledges of resistance, whoops of applause, and information about the people and organizations working locally on the issues under threat — particularly climate change, racial justice, immigration reform, and reproductive rights. One thing seems very clear here tonight: Seattle is ready.
The “#Earth2Trump Roadshow,” a two-week, 16-city tour hosted by the environmental nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, launched Monday in both Seattle and Oakland, Calif., to completely packed houses. Washington Hall was certainly crammed, and although the event is free everywhere it lands, “in Oakland,” says Steve Jones, media specialist with the Center, “they had to start turning people away.”
#Earth2Trump heads to Portland on January 3 and Los Angeles on January 4, and will travel east along both a northern and southern route, hitting spots such as Denver and Omaha and Houston before ending up in Washington, D.C. in time for Inauguration Day. There, it will join with the protest movement #DisruptJ20, which promises to use blockades and marches and other forms of direct action to stop traffic and shut down the inaugural festivities.
The goal of #Earth2Trump, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, is to build “a network of resistance against President-elect Trump’s attacks on the environment and civil rights,” and so it partnered with local organizations, activists, and musicians around the country to do so. Seattle’s list of #Earth2Trump co-sponsors is long and varied, including the ACLU of Washington, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Unite Here Local 8, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA), and the Sightline Institute.
Tablers in Washington Hall on Monday included NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, the Transit Riders Union, and 350 Seattle; speakers included local activist and performer Nikkita Oliver, Daniel Shih representing the ACLU, Rising Tide Seattle co-founder Ahmed Gaya, 16-year-old climate activist and musician Aji Piper, Seattle Neighborhood Action Coalition co-founder Kaya Axelsson, and Aneelah Afzali, the founder and executive director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN), a new social justice initiative through the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS).
Afzali describes AMEN as, so far, a “one-woman show” with lots of eager volunteers. She says launching something like this was certainly on her mind before the election, but on November 9, she went immediately to work. Among AMEN’s first efforts is to share an action list for combating Islamophobia, which Afzali handed out liberally Monday.
The night was like a balm to anti-Trump despair: Nikkita Oliver wooed the room with melodic layers of song and spoken word; Aji Piper spoke about the kids’ climate lawsuit and sang about environmental preservation as he plucked a ukulele; and headliner musicians and social justice activists Dana Lyons and Makana drummed up solidarity through ballads and sing-a-longs.
Most in attendance signed the Center for Biological Diversity’s “pledge of resistance,” too, and added their own personal promises to the statement. They dropped the messages into a large, hollow globe that #Earth2Trump promises to deliver to the President-elect on January 20. Then, a few people got up on stage to share what they’d written, including one elementary school-aged girl. She said: “What I wrote is, ‘Trump, if you were a person of color, how would you feel?’”