WASHINGTON — The 58th Presidential Inauguration on Friday seems certain to draw plenty of protesters. One group that is expected to be among the most active inaugural week has vowed to try to block President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural ceremony and inaugural parade.
The group DisruptJ20, which references the Jan. 20 date of Inauguration Day, is spending time this weekend in training sessions wherein veteran protesters share their experience.
While the workshops are being conducted on the campus of American University, the university banned news media from reporting on the two-day sessions, which are being held in the atrium of the School of International Service.
But on a public sidewalk outside the campus, one of DisruptJ20’s organizers explained what was happening in the training.
“What people are doing inside is they’re hearing from a variety of seasoned activists, in terms of how they conducted protests through the last few decades,” said Lacy MacAuly, one of the organizers of Disrupt J20.
“To learn how to protest, to learn how to voice our opposition and our concern,” she said.
The workshops include how to safely conduct acts of civil disobedience and theories of protest. There are also discussions on topics such as racial and gender justice.
DisruptJ20 said it planned to have protests at each entry point to the Inaugural Day parade. The organization said it was planning blockades, including blocking traffic.
“We want to have an impact,” MacAuly said.
“Yes, it will be a disruption. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be major,” she said.
D.C. interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said police were prepared for attempts to disrupt the Inauguration. In addition to police about 5,000 National Guard Troops are being activated.
MacAuly said the group plans to begin demonstrations Wednesday night outside the Chevy Chase, Maryland, home of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. They also plan to hold a protest Thursday evening outside the National Press Club, where a self-described pro-Trump group is hosting an inaugural celebratory gathering.
Though the event is being organized by white supremacist alt-right members, they say the event is for Trump supporters “from across the country, from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and walks of life. We will not tolerate any incendiary actions that are discriminatory in nature and/or designed to disrupt the event.”
DisruptJ20 has permits for a major march from Columbus Circle at Union Station to McPherson Square at noon Friday. MacCauly said there will be other spontaneous protests.
Editor’s note: American University tells WTOP they do not support the training because there are concerns that the program will encourage unlawful or harmful behavior. Assistant Vice President for Communications Camille Lepre said a media review for the event was not completed in time, so as a policy, reporters were not allowed access inside the building but were allowed to conduct interviews outside.
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