Summary: Los Angeles protests see newly-politicized youth rallying around anti-Trumpism, but more political development is necessary — Editors
The first days after that fateful Tuesday saw a large mobilization of people going to the streets in several spontaneous and quickly-planned protests, marches and walk-outs. By Friday, Nov. 11th, things began to escalate, as over 3,000 people poured into downtown LA, and the LAPD arrested nearly 200 people that night in what the LA Times called “the fourth night of unrest following the presidential election”. That weekend, the demonstrations grew even larger, with some estimates of 10,000 people, with ABC 7’s usually conservative estimate at approximately 8,000. Students from high-schools all over the area, and particularly in East Los Angeles, staged walk-outs that continued into the following week.
After about 2 weeks of almost daily protests, the energy dropped somewhat, and the weekday protests dissipated while still maintaining a consistent weekend presence. Anti-Trumpism dovetailed with the Dakota Access Pipeline fight, and as November turned to December, most LA protest gatherings harnessed people’s anger from both issues. When the DAPL fight was “won”, the focus shifted back somewhat to the president-elect, and his upcoming inauguration. Still, the weekly protests continue with DAPL and Trumpism the central foci, as New Year’s Eve saw a protest outside of Breitbart headquarters, and the annual Tournament of Roses Parade was followed by “Water is Life” marchers.
With the inauguration just a couple of weeks away, many massive protests (and counter protests) are planned for Washington, DC for the entire J20 weekend. Mirror protests are planned in Los Angeles and other cities, with some calling for a general strike on the inauguration day itself. The LA J20 day of action is organized by “March and Rally LA”, a group that started organizing marches for Bernie Sanders, and has since continued and grown to take the lead in the inauguration weekend actions. While “March and Rally LA” has held an event almost every other day since the election, the only thing in January (after the Rose Parade march) will be J20. Clearly, preparations are in full swing for inauguration day.
What can we learn from this surge in action? These mobilizations were not only characterized by their spontaneous nature, but also (and not unrelatedly) by the newly politicized young people wanting to “get involved”. Aside from the usual suspects (ANSWER Coalition, etc.) along with ex-Occupiers coming back into the fold, many rapidly-radicalizing and newly active people came to the protests in the first political activity of their lives. The ability of the Sanders campaign as well as Black Lives Matter to engage so many young people has clearly had its effect. With any optimism fostered by Bernie and BLM at the potential for change from within the Democratic party crushed on election day, the outcome of the election and Bernie’s continued voice has paved the way for more and more people to enter the political realm.
If this is truly a new political awakening, then we must join the masses in the streets and bring a Marxist-Humanist analysis to the newly radicalized. The lack of political development at the protests in LA was evidenced by lot of hopes pinned on the completely impossible “faithless elector” strategy, and the overwhelming pressure to “do something now!”. While neither of these tendencies is a surprise, if the tide is truly turning, we must be there to engage those who are exiting the “immediacy imperative” of the protest world in search of a deeper understanding of capitalism as a system, and alternatives to it. We must continue to sharpen our own analysis, reject liberal individualist politics, and continue to apply Marxist-Humanist principles to our work. We have nothing to lose but our chains!