January 28, 2017…. Day 9
In the morning there were already protesters at Terminal 4 at JFK. Then there were protesters at Terminal D in Dallas. Then there were protesters a dozen different places, including Sea-Tac. Lawyers everywhere, cross-legged on the floor with laptops, volunteering their time. People streamed to the airports. The Facebook invite page sprang up for the Seattle protest–there were 22 people going when I first saw it. It ballooned past 1,000. People dropped everything. They came over on the Bainbridge Island ferry. They drove up from Olympia. They carpooled. By 6:15 pm, buses and trains had stopped serving Sea-Tac because traffic and swarms of people. Lawmakers showed up at airports around the country, following the lead of spontaneous citizen organizers. John Lewis, Elizabeth Warren, Terry McAuliffe, Pramila Jayapal, Kshama Sawant. Anthony Romero, head of the ACLU, outside a courthouse with news that a federal judge had granted a nationwide, temporary stay. News trickled out that the Whitehouse overruled input from some agencies when they wrote the executive order, and denied other agencies the chance to have any feedback at all–including Homeland Security! Detainees were released and said that the officials detaining them seemed to have no idea what they were doing.
It was a temporary victory in a chilling time. Steve Bannon is calling the shots. And now he’s on the National Security Council–according to various sources on Twitter that seem reliable. And that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Director of Intelligence are not on the Security Council anymore. Can this even be true? A former CIA staffer tweeted that the news had made her physically ill. Every day things get so much worse. This is all worse than I even expected.
Two friends texting me at once in a panic, terrified. I don’t know what to say to them. I say “We go down together, and we go down swinging. Do the task in front of you, and then the one after that, and then the one after that.”
Some people say they hate the phone so much they can’t call their representatives. If your child’s life depended on it, you would figure it out. So figure it out.
I went to the first meeting of a newly formed grassroots organization. There were maybe 120 people there at a big picnic shelter at a park. It was chilly. We separated into neighborhoods and were supposed to have discussions. There were eight women and two men in my group. The women were a variety of races and the two men were white. The men dominated the conversation from the very beginning. They became the de facto leaders and spokespeople. They turned out to be socialists. They handed out fliers for their socialist stuff. They were not part of the original organizers for the group, they had just showed up in response to the Facebook invite like I had. I was really not thrilled by the dynamic. I introduced myself to some of the other group leaders at the end when people were milling around, and I introduced myself to the leaders who had started the whole thing–just two sisters who weren’t big time activists. One had a baby on her hip. They were just two more people trying to do something.
I met up with my step-dad who is in town right now. We walked from downtown up to Capital Hill, and I told him about the meeting. First I vented about it, but then when he sympathized about the meeting being a “waste” I said it hadn’t been a waste. That grassroots organizing will be messy and awkward at first. People are just getting the ball rolling. I met some interesting people. At least I tried. Something might come out of it. And so on. For everything I said, he said something back somewhat negative and defeatist about how people won’t be motivated, everyone just wants instant gratification, the messaging is too dilute, everything is just going to shit. It was frustrating to me, because I am trying. Then when we were sitting in our booth at the restaurant he said, “I called Lisa Murkowski to thank her for standing up for abortion rights. I told the staffer that my sisters were raped before there were any options, and what wound up happening to them was too terrible to even talk about.” I had to struggle not to cry right then and there in front of him. The idea of him, a bit of a scattershot old rural Democrat who is none too PC, calling his representative for a women’s issue like that–and then also telling me that about his sisters. After dinner we went to the bookstore next door and he said, “it gives me some hope that there are all these people here at the bookstore.”
On the bus after dinner, I was just tuning back in to the internet and to Seattle’s airport protests heating up. My bus was heading in the wrong direction. Even though I was wiped out from a long day, I thought about getting off my bus and making my way to the light rail to get out to Sea-Tac. Then the dispatcher’s voice came through the bus speakers, talking to our driver–light rail had stopped serving the Sea-Tac stop because of “the situation on the platform” and the protesters. All buses going anywhere near the airport were affected by traffic and congestion too. I saw around that time the stay came out from the federal judge, too. So I figured I would go home and rest up before the big immigration protest tomorrow at Westlake.
I am not hopeful tonight, but I’m willing to keep trying.
Update: at 8:31 pm, The Stranger reports that 10,000 people are occupying Sea-Tac.
Update: 8:41 pm. Forgot to mention this earlier. There’s a creepy ad running on TV asking people to pledge to defend Trump from protesters and detractors.